The following is the letter sent by some BRC members to the HDSB. We have included it as sent to us. We will comment in a follow up article as we believe the content of this letter is best left in the words of those who wrote it. Names have been removed to protect those who had the courage in our opinion for sending this email in light of the changes made to all their hard work. As a community we have nothing but gratitude for those who took the time and participated in good faith to come up with recommendations that benefited the community. Here is their response to the revised recommendations.
Letter to the Halton District School Board Trustees Regarding the SRA103 Boundary Review Process
We would like to express our grave concerns regarding the outcome of the Boundary Review process for the new northwest Oakville high school (SRA 103). The original goal of the Boundary Review Committee (BRC) was to recommend one consensus boundary scenario to the Boundary Review Steering Committee (BRSC) based on the objective decision criteria established by the BRSC. These criteria were discussed at length, modified and priority-weighted by the BRC during its initial deliberations so as to objectively and consistently evaluate the various scenarios toward selecting a single boundary scenario. At the end of the BRC process, the BRSC felt that there would be no unanimous decision, so the BRC was not permitted to establish a consensus recommending one boundary scenario. “Possible improvements” and “points to consider” for each of the final three scenarios were put forth to the Director of Education and embellished in Report # 11090 entitled “Secondary School Boundary Changes –Oakville Secondary Schools” (Report).
We would like to outline our objections to the Director’s report and the recommendations contained therein.
1. The BRC does not endorse these “possible improvements” or “points to consider” from members and trustees as summarized in Appendix K of the Report;
• None of this information was thoroughly evaluated, deliberated, and scrubbed by the BRC when it was amassed at the May 10 2011 BRC meeting. Members and trustees were allowed to put forth whatever views they wished without critical examination by the BRC against the established criteria. For example, the section in Appendix K regarding Scenario 10 lists the attributes both “most balanced between high schools” and “imbalance between high schools” which are obviously entirely opposing statements.
2. The modified Scenario 5 in Appendix L of the Report is presented as “Scenario 5 (as recommended)” without attribution. This modified scenario was not recommended by the BRC as the amendments were not discussed nor evaluated against the criteria in the same fashion as all other prior scenarios had been assessed.
3. Two of the reports initial recommendations are entirely inconsistent with the directives included in Appendix L detailing the modified Scenario 5 enrollment projections;
• “Be it resolved that consideration be given to initiating the Grade 9 French Immersion program prior to September 2015, in the year that sufficient enrolment exists within the SRA #103 French Immersion boundaries, for two Grade 9 French Immersion classes.”
• “Be it resolved that SRA #103, provide Grade 9 French Immersion Programming in September 2015 with an additional grade added in each successive year. “
do not align with the more specific statement in the modified Scenario 5 summary stating;
• “SRA103 #1 opens Sept 2012 with a Gr9‐10 FI program; Gr11 FI added Sept 2013; Gr12 FI added Sept 2014”
Again, both statements cannot be correct. More importantly, how can an FI program be initiated at SRA103 with a projected enrollment of just 26 students in 2012 and only 57, and 91 in the successive 2 years. Program viability was held up as a priority criterion in the BRC’s deliberations so it is disingenuous to suggest that a program can be viable with just 26 students, in addition to this projection not being sufficient to justify 2 Grade 9 FI classes.
4. Initiating FI programming in 2012 is not supported by the criteria, and was neither discussed nor agreed upon by the BRC, and is not justified as described in the Report. The rationale expressed in the Report for “the decision to attempt to provide French programming earlier than 2016 is recommended because:…“ is indicated as;
• “French Immersion graduates of Palermo will not exist until the 2015-2016 school year. An earlier start up of French programming (2012-2013) will ensure the existence of both English and French programming at SRA #103.”
This is tantamount to saying that “starting French programming will ensure that French programming exists”. If there are no FI Palermo graduates until the 2015-2016 school year and there is insufficient enrollment to justify FI programming, then FI programming should only commence at the time it is needed and justified against the established criteria.
The concluding comment in the Report “Scenario 5, including the potential addition of Grade 9 French Immersion programming starting in the 2012/2013 school year, does address most of the criteria as identified during this boundary review process. “ is simply untrue since “addition of Grade 9 French Immersion programming starting in the 2012/2013 school year” was simply not discussed nor deliberated by the BRC.
It is our understanding that Director Euale has recommended Scenario 5. We also recognize that this recommendation is only provisional at this time and would therefore like to take this opportunity to state both our concerns and recommendations.
1. We do not support Scenario 10 based on the established criteria;
a. In this scenario, the FI students from Palermo are allowed to attend the new high school, while the mandatory program English students living west of Bronte Road have to walk or be bussed past SRA103 to Abbey Park High School. We strongly believe that the Palermo English students should be allowed to attend their neighbourhood school. In addition, Scenario 10 does not change the boundaries for Abbey Park High School, resulting in severe overcrowding at Abbey Park. Next year Abbey Park’s enrolment will be 143% of on-the-ground capacity and will gradually decrease to 117% (excluding optional attendance) by 2020. For the first six years, Abbey Park’s enrolment will be much greater than that of SRA 103, despite the fact that Abbey Park’s capacity is almost 300 students less. Alleviating overcrowding at Abbey Park was one of the goals of the new high school, as stated in the Board’s 2010 Long Term Accommodation Plan.
2. We support Scenario 1 as the preferred option based on the established criteria;
a. Scenario 1 achieves the BRC goal of no negative impact on other schools and the 2010 Long Term Accommodation Plan goal of alleviating overcrowding at Abbey Park High School and White Oaks Secondary School. It fits all of the criteria that the BRC rated as most important: all programs at all schools are viable, there are stable, long-term boundaries, and there is the best balance of enrolment at all high schools. Aside from the above criteria, Scenario 1 has the most logical boundaries for the English program. All cohorts are kept together. There are no additional costs (bussing, French Immersion start up) to this scenario and this was the scenario most preferred by the public, as per the feedback forms from the April 7 meeting.
3. We support Scenario 5 in its original form with French Immersion starting in 2016;.
a. We are concerned with the Director’s suggestion to start FI earlier than this. The projections for Scenario 5 indicate that there are not enough students to fill two classes of FI per grade within the Scenario 5 boundaries which would not make a viable FI program as noted previously. Our accompanying concern is that the Board of Trustees may take this as an opportunity to beef up the FI numbers by adding optional attendance or flexible boundaries. Without caps, these options, in turn, could result in the FI program at SRA 103 ballooning and would worsen future overcrowding at SRA103 as well as the viability of the FI program at T.A. Blakelock. Lastly, the revised enrollment projections for the modified Scenario 5 proposed has SRA103 at 124% of its OTG capacity by 2020 versus T. A. Blakelock at only 90% of OTG by 2020. In the same vein, T. A. Blakelock will be at only 85% of total capacity in 2020 while SRA103 will be at 101% of total capacity in 2020 with a sizable 12 portables to accommodate enrollment. In every sense of the established criteria, including balance enrollment, program viability, stable boundaries and the minimal use of portables, the modified Scenario 5 makes no sense whatsoever.
In general, we strongly oppose flexible boundaries for many reasons. Planning would be even more difficult if there were a group of students who every year had a choice of which school to go to. If just 15 students change their mind about which school to attend it affects the teacher requirements of the school creating additional instability. Cohorts would be split if students had the choice of where to go. Moreover, many parents make deliberate, informed and expensive choices about where to purchase a home based on school boundaries and therefore would like their choices respected.