Hello residents of Ward 1
I would like to hear from you
An elementary Area Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) has been meeting since April 2011 looking at accommodation issues at Dalewood, Prince Philip, and George R. Allan schools. The Committee submitted a report to the Board in January 2012 with its recommendations, and Staff has submitted a report as well. A public meeting to hear delegations’ views about the recommendations will be held on the evening of March 20, and the Board of Trustees will start to make decisions about the recommendations on April 16th at the Committee of the Whole.
The Dalewood ARC recommendations are to keep Prince Philip, Dalewood and George R. Allan schools open. The Staff report is to close Prince Philip and consolidate that school with George R Allan, adding a further gym, and three new classrooms. The new classrooms will be needed in part because classroom space will be lost in adding a proposed new elevator. Both reports recommend also adding new purpose-built kindergarten classrooms needed for the new all-day kindergarten programs, for which Provincial funding exists. The Staff recommendations include an elevator for Dalewood, and some further upgrades to both Dalewood and George R. Allan, and the business plan includes using the proceeds from the sale of Prince Philip’s land to offset some of the costs. The closure of Prince Philip would also allow the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) eliminate $3.2 million in deferred maintenance. The Dalewood ARC also recommended some upgrades to Dalewood and George R. Allan schools. The full reports can be found at http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/arcelementary/?page_id=663 andhttp://www.hwdsb.on.ca/arcelementary/?page_id=647
I am asking for your feed-back for the following reasons:
- HWDSB is underfunded for capital improvements, in 2010 -11 it received $1 for every $18 that is needed.
- This means that HWDSB is trying to reduce its building stock so that the remaining buildings can be properly maintained (now also being promoted by the Drummond report).
- For the last seven years I have heard concerns from George R. Allan parents about the state of the school building including:
- The present washrooms need to be upgraded
- Although it is a three- floor school with a basement, washrooms are only on the first floor: they need to be on other floors too so there is greater washroom accessibility
- There is no elevator and students with mobility issues have to move to other schools.
- Prince Philip and Dalewood have not had any substantial work done on the schools for about ten years. Dalewood has had blocked -off windows in the gym for even longer.
If the Staff recommendation is approved by Trustees
- Upgrades will be made to George R.Allan so as to accommodate the Prince Philip children. These would be :
- An additional full-sized gym
- a washroom on the second floor
- four new purpose-built kindergarten rooms (instead of the two G.R.Allan alone requires)—these are larger than regular classrooms and have sinks and washrooms paid for with one- time Provincial money for this purpose
- an accessible washroom
- an improved staff room
- three new classrooms
- an elevator
- Other upgrades to George R. Allan and Dalewood will be made over time, including an elevator and an accessible washroom at Dalewood, as HWDSB will no longer be operating or having to consider long term repair costs at Prince Philip.
If the status quo is maintained and all schools remain open:
It is unlikely there will be any upgrades to the three schools until there is another ARC process, for the following reasons:
- Funding any upgrades will be an issue:
- no funds from the sale of land
- only a weak case to apply to the Province for any additional capital funds
- no savings from operating only two schools instead of three.
- Schools placed for accommodation review, where no decision is made to close, historically do not afterwards receive a high priority for any upgrades.
- HWDSB is unwilling to invest in schools where there is a possibility that they may not be open in the next 10 years, as it does not have enough maintenance funds to go around.
- Small schools are vulnerable to closure, as they are more expensive to administer; HWDSB has closed eight small schools since 1998. Prince Philip’s current enrolment hovers around 200.
Another ARC process could not take place for a minimum of five years but would probably be longer, as ARC processes entail a great deal of staff time, and there are other district priorities. If Prince Philip is closed through a new ARC process, the opportunity will have been lost for one-time funding for two more purpose-built kindergartens at G.R.Allan to house the Prince Philip kindergarten children.
Should schools be upgraded, even if one school will have to close in the process?
Is it more important to keep all schools open for the sake of the community, even if they are not in a good state of repair, and do not provide all the facilities needed for modern learning?
Please let me know your thoughts.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
905 512 5713