The recommendations tabled by the Halton District School Board (HDSB) are not what many BRC members recommended during the latest Ward 4 boundary review and come as a devastating confidence blow for many. For many it just represents a community once again ignored.
Having participated in the latest Ward 4 boundary review, advocated for sanity in the delivery of education in Halton for years, reported on what many are saying is complete biased delivery of programming and services in Oakville that seems to protect French Immersion and Gifted students only, and involved in the last elementary fiasco boundary review for Palermo only a few years ago, I sadly have to agree with what I am hearing from the community – that once again the HDSB ignores the will and needs of the majority of students in Ward 4.
I personally sat and advocated or commented on, along with others, the following during this latest BRC caused by overcrowding of the FI program and the complete refusal to put either caps or policy to deliver the program in a fair and manageable method:
1. Policy had to be included for any school going dual that would protect the enrollment balance of mandated programming at local schools – the board refused to include this as part of the exercise and to date has refused to confirm whether they will ever include such protection.
2. Neighbourhood schools must remain that – including optional programming where and if it fit and that no local school should become a dual school and taken over by FI – again no protections have been included in the process or recommendation.
3. Process was too rushed and biased – at times we could literally not keep track of what scenarios we were even reviewing. With the introduction of several scenarios the last night that protected Forest Trail as single track – many felt those were rammed through on the final vote night. Many left the meeting stating openly they had been ‘out politiced’. What a sad outcome for an exercise that many reps tried to protect.
4. Many dual schools should be introduced within the ward. The BRC members wanted many dual schools to even out the demand, allow the program to be offered locally, reduce busing, allow siblings to go to school together, etc. The final recommendation is not what was advocated by many BRC members as again it includes only 1-2 additional dual track schools that could easily be taken over by FI if policy is not developed by the board.
5. Forest Trail should be dual as well. Single track delivery of FI has according to the board’s own consulting report done only a few years ago no academic advantage, yet the entire ward is now forced to accommodate without any protections this optional program. At the same time the FI community once again is protected and feels no pain. This is absolutely not what many on the BRC wanted.
6. Popularity of the program was debated although the stats themselves clearly show the majority of children do not take FI. It would seem that the HDSB ignores its own stats as it PRs the merits of this program.
7. Grandfathering would not solve the immediate issue of overcrowding – the very reason the BRC was forced on the community yet the final recommendation has an outrageous amount of grandfathering and protection for yet again the FI community. They don’t even seem embarrassed by the obvious protection they provide only one side.
8. The need to have such a rushed process considering the Planning Dept has warned the board since Palermo opened of the need to review their method of delivering FI and the crisis at Palermo. For many BRC members, they believe the entire process and recommendation should be scrapped. It was too rushed, had inconsistent objectives or criteria, was not transparent and the final recommendation does not reflect the values, outcomes or objectives of the BRC.
9. Ward 4 trustee Kathryn Bateman-Olmstead’s motion that seemed to many residents to not consider the future impact of the Palermo community was discussed as being one of the possible causes for the current crisis yet the new proposal seems to once again protect the FI. Now, once again the HDSB proposal seems to allow absolutely no protection for the schools going dual because they have refused to include enrollment guarantees. To many residents, it would seem this new proposal is a repeat of the last review forcing us again and again into boundary changes and many feeling left out.
10. A recent board meeting included a discussion on whether Pilgrim Wood’s numbers for FI were enough and whether the program should only go to Heritage Glen only once again causing fears that the board may make HG the next target for a single track school to accommodate this runaway program.
11. Ward 4 trustee stating openly that if 90% of families wanted FI then they would deliver it was very offensive to many BRC members who feel they need to remind our trustee that the majority of the families she is supposed to be representing do not take this program – it would seem to many that it time for a change at the board table for maybe trustees who serve all children.
12. Leadership who during public meetings did not know facts about French education delivery, seemed far too eager to ship out English families from their neighbourhood schools and the constant reminder of the popularity of an optional program that is not taken by the majority of children was beyond offensive to many BRC reps.
13. Stable boundaries are a must. Now that community members are hearing talk by FI families that Heritage Glen will be the new single track school south of Upper Middle – does the board not feel it time to review its delivery methods.
With an FI community and many trustees who favor single track delivery, why on earth would any community school want this optional program to come to their school. Has every trustee, Director, Super and every management personnel forgotten that they are supposed to deliver fair education for all children not just the select groups they have decided to protect.
As a member of the BRC I cannot argue with what I am hearing from many who served on this committeee – shame on all of you for once again because many of us believe you have made a complete mockery of the process, wasting our time, leaving out most children in our Ward and letting us all know why we have to finally unite and make a very ugly vocal fight to win back the education our children deserve and our taxes pay for.
Let the Ministry know that our community has absolutely no intention of sitting back while the HDSB tables a motion that will potentially steal another local school in a few years for what many believe is an optional elitist program because you refuse to control and manage it and discriminate against so many children in our community.
Do we have any faith in this board to do the right thing for all children in Oakville. Most are saying NO!
Look out community – once the final recommendation is tabled that force FI onto maybe 1 or 2 schools we want to make it clear that this is not what many BRC members wanted, recommended or intended. The destruction of our local schools as our children are bused out for an optional program was not our fault but we will fight to get some sanity back to our community.
It is once again a sad day for our community!!!!!