Sherwood and Westmount secondary schools require a combined $35 million in deferred maintenance cost and the board decides they should remain open, while Hill Park and Barton only require $17 million combined and they decide to close them instead.
Laura Peddle defends the Sherwood decision by stating the system the board uses overstated the costs for Sherwood; that same software most likely overstated Hill Park’s and Barton’s projected costs as well so Hill Park and Barton still would appear to be relatively the more cost effective schools to remain open and maintain.
Wes Hicks stated that during the accommodation review the board knew Westmount, Sherwood, Hill Park and Barton all needed repairs. One has to believe they had the 2010 cost projections back then so by what logic did they still decide to close the less expensive schools? Tim Simmons stated there were a lot of factors in deciding which schools close, the most significant being reduced operating costs and freeing up funding through property sales. Keeping Hill Park (with its adjacent rec centre) and Barton open would have minimized operating costs.
One would also expect the prime real estate value for Westmount and Sherwood would maximize funding for the board’s master plan.
Either the board seriously needs a math lesson or they need to stop packaging up excuses and declare the real (and most likely less palatable) reasons behind these school closure decisions. They owe it to their public stakeholders to have a more transparent process going forward.