‘Beyond brilliant’ plan $3.2M cheaper than staff solution
By Richard Leitner, News Staff
An 11th-hour proposal to partner with the city on two new public elementary schools in west Flamborough is being hailed as a “beyond brilliant,” grassroots solution to the need to cut surplus classroom seats in the area.
Hamilton public school board trustees voted 10-1 on Monday to support the plan, which saves Millgrove Elementary School from closure but shutters Spencer Valley, Greensville, Dr. John Seaton and Beverly Central schools.
It hopes to build two new 350-seat schools – one on city-owned land at the Beverly Community Centre and the other at the existing Greensville school site, where the city would relocate the area’s library.
Flamborough trustee Karen Turkstra presented the plan, predicated on ministry funding for the new schools, expected to cost $6.8 million each.
She said it’s supported by both Flamborough city councillors and incumbent area MPP Ted McMeekin, and provides three strategically placed schools, avoiding the long bus rides Millgrove students faced if their 100-year-old school closed.
The plan is also $3.2 million cheaper than a staff proposal to close all schools and replace them with a 350-seat one at Beverly and a 525-seat one at Spencer Valley, she added.
“It is time for stability in our rural schools,” Turkstra said, noting the plan will also create community hubs with city and other services.
Board chair Jessica Brennan called the plan “beyond brilliant” and said she’s pleased to see councillors Rob Pasuta and Judy Partridge were involved in “a very community-created solution.”
“I’m very encouraged that that may bode well for other projects that we would like to talk to other councillors about,” she said.
West Mountain trustee Wes Hicks also welcomed the proposed partnership and said he hopes it doesn’t get bogged down like the failed one at Scott Park for the new high school by the Pan Am stadium.
“It’s amazing how things can be accomplished when both the city and the board work together to accomplish, really, what the community wants,” he said.
Only Ward 4 trustee Ray Mulholland voted against the plan.
“I’m not opposed to this type of motion, I just oppose any closure of small rural schools,” he said.
Afterwards, Pasuta, who joined about 70 onlookers, many of them sporting “I love Millgrove School” T-shirts, said he feels he can get council support for the “terrific” plan.
“I damn well better,” he said. “I think they understand the value of community hubs.”
Should the partnerships and provincial funding not materialize, the board would go it alone at the existing Beverly school site and upgrade Spencer Valley, closing Greensville. Millgrove would stay open under all scenarios.