Parkview students are the most immediate, most tragic victims of the Board's outsized game of Monopoly with the city's essential public infrastructure.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 22, 2014
As the bloodyminded Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) continues to tear a swath of needless destruction through vulnerable Hamilton neighbourhoods, perhaps the most callously sacrificial lamb on the chopping block is little Parkview Secondary School on Balsam Avenue North between Cannon and Beechwood.
Parkview serves around 230 students, most of them from the city's poorest neighbourhoods, and all of them with some kind of learning disability. Soft-spoken Principal Paul Beattie and his staff have been a beacon of hope for these youths, their families and their communities.
Between innovative learning methods with admirable success rates, a partnership with Mohawk College to teach trade skills and pave a path to postsecondary education, a discreet free breakfast and lunch program, and a sustained campaign to destigmatize the school and sustain a culture of respect and inclusion, Parkview is a remarkable testament to the great good that a small number of dedicated people can accomplish with limited resources.
Late last year, Journalist Samantha Beattie produced a short documentary on Parkview that included interviews with Principal Beattie, teacher Dana Sartor and a few students:
This morning, Spectator columnist Jeff Mahoney picked up where the video left off with a haunting tour of the school and and its remarkable staff and students.
The HWDSB is determined to shut Parkview down, along with Delta and Sir John A. MacDonald, and build a new single high school for the entire lower city east of Westdale Secondary School. In the meantime, most Parkview students will shift to Delta - at least until that school also closes in 2016.
At that time, the Board hopes to have built a new school on the site of Parkview and neighbouring King George School, already closed, that will accommodate students from the entire lower city as far west as the catchment for Sir John A.
In what may go down as one of the most facepalm-inducing moves in a crowded field of Board blunders, Trustees voted late last year to buy back the nearby former school at Scott Park - not to renovate it, mind you, but to bulldoze it and pave a 165-spot parking lot for the new school they're building on the site of Parkview/King George.
So much for the unique culture of acceptance and dedicated teaching for the vulnerable students of Parkview. They are the most immediate, most tragic collateral damage in the Board's outsized game of Monopoly with the city's essential public infrastructure.
So much for the proposed redevelopment of the Scott Park site. Instead, the Board will expropriate it at market value from the current owner, Jamil Kara, just a few years after selling it to him.
So much for the revitalization of the
Ivor Wynne Stadium precinct with new investment around the field. Instead we'll get a big new expanse of surface parking.
So much for the continent-wide trend of families moving en masse back into urban neighbourhoods. The Board's dubious demographic projections will only help to manufacture the continued desertion and disinvestment they predict, by stripping Hamilton's older urban neighbourhoods of the fixed capital assets of schools and community services that families rightly expect to find in a healthy community.
So much for expecting civic leadership from our civic leaders.
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