I have been watching the site selection process for the new North Secondary School with increasing frustration and disbelief. So far the results of your decisions include the shuttering of 3 schools, the demolition of 3 buildings, a long commute for many of your students, and a particularly confusing transition period for the kids at Parkview. For all this, your best solution seems to be to shoehorn a mega-school into a property that will be barely adequate on day one, with parking 200 metres away, and a football field that will likely require bus tickets to reach.
Do you really believe this plan will serve the students of today? What does it mean for the students of tomorrow, especially if Hamilton’s recent urban intensification trend continues to take hold? What will a long commute mean for dropout rates? What happens in 10-15 years when you’re out of room to expand and properties to sell or build on? For all this expense, upheaval and demolition, surely we can do better.
While retaining all of our current secondary schools would be my first preference, and should be Plan A, I believe it’s time for the Board to reconsider Sir John A Macdonald as a proper location for the new North School. There is more than adequate space for a school, a football field and whatever amenities you would require. There is ample transit, room to expand, and the Board already owns the property. While I’m sure your staff have suggested that the sale of the land is required to fund your plans, you should be asking yourself: If the downtown land is suddenly so valuable, and people are once again moving into the core, is this the right time to abandon it by denying it a proper secondary school?
If things really are this bad that you’re willing to resort to such desperate measures, why is the board not SCREAMING at the Province for failing to provide adequate funding? Why are you not being advocates for Hamilton instead of simply capitulating to the wishes and warnings of your staff? If you’re wondering why City Council has been so unsupportive, it’s because you’ve created an indefensible situation that they want no part of. If you stopped this process, made a stand, and asked them to support you in lobbying the Ministry for funds to keep schools OPEN, both in the North and South ARC areas, I don’t doubt you’d find a more willing ally.
There is still time to fix this mess, please do so.
Ward 1 Resident.
Edit: I encourage everyone to send their own thoughts to the school board. Here are their emails: