So now that the Halton District School Board has finally posted its recommendations for the new high school on its web site many in the community are stating the board has once again proven itself dishonest. For those wishing for anything different than what the public has come to expect, community members are stating openly that you will be sadly disappointed. For them it is simply business as usual at the HDSB.
Although the recommendation made by the board addresses some of the concerns raised, we are being contacted by outraged community members and participants of the BRC committee who state they feel they have once again been completely deceived by the HDSB. Although the committee expected some minor changes to any option they recommended to have Option 5 so drastically changed allowing the timing of FI entry to be exactly what they championed against and presented as if it was recommended is meeting with outrage.
Lets be honest here this entire process was really about programming not accommodation. By name it suggests it is about accommodation but most in the community believe nothing is done in Halton that is not about programmming these days – namely English against French. Although schools in our country are supposed to be community schools (thus for a specific community) the public believes they often don’t end up that because for many the HDSB is completely obsessed with optional French Immersion programming. Although FI programming is delivered across the country, in Oakville the delivery consists of trying to make the method single track.
So now for the new high school in Ward 4 the BRC process which took many parents and community members out of their homes and away from their families to work collectively in what was to be a transparent and honest process which was to take 3 final recommendations and have the Director present them to the board trustees for final approval, the vast changes to Option 5 goes against everything the process was suppose to be.
The main raging debate for this new high school was the fact that the community of mandated education desperately needs the physical spaces and that the optional FI program as it is delivered in Halton has no caps or management, deliberately typically provides an unfair enrollment boundary (for elementary say Palermo it has been provided a 5 to 1 sized boundary) thus crowding out the community for optional students. The community feared the same fate would occur at the high school level if the board was allowed to conduct itself in the same manner. It was the general belief that mandated programming was not properly represented at the board table that led to such public and heated public debate. Essentially it is the complete distrust the community has for this board on protecting and represented mandated education that has led to the community being so vocal about this high school.
The BRC final recommendation did in Option 5 allow for FI programming but it was delayed thus ensuring that room for the community had been met.
Now returning to the complete distrust the community has for how decisions are made at the board, many believed any option presented would have the final decision hijacked just like Palermo was at the 11th hour of voting.
What was not expected was that those wanting FI would it seems to many go behind the process and get their way even before the recommendation was tabled. It was also supposed to be presented to the board trustees and the public by the Director.
Option 5 firmly stated that FI programming had to wait several years before being introduced at the school. This delay allowed the board to determine spacing for the community. It was absolutely essential to ensure the community school was given to the community.
Oakville (and especially Ward 4) has a long history of taking away either community schools completely from the community (remember the West Oak Trail elementary school that was funded by the Ministry as a community school only to have the trustees vote to kick out the entire community other than FI students and make it a single track school). The next fiasco was the Palermo Public School that had its last minute motion tabled at 10:30 by the Ward 4 trustee replace all motions developed and put forth replaced by an unseen and uninvestigated motion. This motion as we have reported has absolutely no enrollment balancing protections thus the school is quickly being taken over by FI programming. To date, no recommendation or work has been put forth to address this brand new school’s crisis situation.
So now this latest accommodation review has become once again about programming because the trustees that were bent and determined to provided FI programming into the new school on day one have once again gotten their way. The only difference this time it is does appear to many that a last minute ‘pull a rat out of your hat’ doesn’t have to occur at the vote table. Instead their will has been forced into the recommendation even though this was deliberately never intended to be part of Option 5.
Let it be clear that the BRC’s community recommendation clearly stated and put forward that French Immersion programming had to wait for several years. This has been once again completely ignored in order to provide for the optional programming that consistently for many gets representation at the trustee vote table.
So a board that has been publicly humiliated by the Cooke Report that produced an extremely critical report on how this board handles public consultations and the honest behind them (read it online to see how critical it was about how this board dealt with the public – remember this was an official report produced by the government when it was forced to investigate this board once before) and the fiasco that occurred with the Palermo process, we are hearing the following from the community.
1. This process has been completely violated. It has turned out dishonest and not transparent as promised as Option 5 has been modified in a way never recommended by the committee.
2. FI backed trustees have once again influenced the process forcing the exact opposite timing of FI enrollment into the school upon the immediate opening of the school.
3. People want to know what back door dealing occurred at this board to radically amend the recommendations made by this community.
4. The government needs to once and for all come in a properly investigate this board that time and time again seem to violate the very process they present to the community.
5. Why is the recommendation being presented by anyone other than the Director. The public was not only notified verbally but in writing that this would be presented by the Director and only the Director to the trustees.
6. What is the Minister of Education going to do when the process has again violated by this board.
7. BRC committee members feel deceived by the HDBS.
We are hearing from the community in record numbers that they do not trust this board, they believe this board is dishonest and their processes do not follow their own procedures.
Why many are asking does this board not represent any other children except those in the optional French Immersion program that they keep forcing down the community’s throats, that they do not manage properly and is absolutely destroying education in our community.
If the HDSB ever believed this process would restore its credibility …they can think again.
The public is screaming about how dishonest this board is again.
Now the only question for the community is what the hell will the Minister of Education do about this. Again we are hearing from many in the community they have no faith that what they believe is an incompetent Minister will step in and make a change.
Here’s hoping to some honesty and transparency for mandated programming in Halton.
So now that we have presented what we are hearing from the community let us state clearly that Oakville Chit Chat challenge national media to get on this story and make it visually impossible for Halton to once again it seems ignore the will of the people and put optional programming ahead of mandated programming. Force for once a system that funds this programming based on rational and managed methods.
Will the Liberals be the government to restore sanity to education in Halton or do we collectively have to make this such a political issue that we ensure the Liberals are once and for all thrown out this fall. Maybe a change of government is needed to standardize the way in which education is delivered in our province.
Let us know what you think.