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Community to discuss future of high schools

By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News

Parkside Works will host a community meeting Friday to discuss how Dundas can make the best of plans to close Parkside and renovate Highland secondary school.

Bob James, a founding member of the group that successfully petitioned the province for a review of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s West Accommodation Review process, said he hopes the meeting will bring out supporters of both schools interested in serving the best interests of students.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 at Dundas town hall.

Among the issues James proposes to discuss are: how to insure good representation of Parkside students on any transition committee overseeing the move to one school; how busing will work; how maintenance issues at Parkside will be handled while it is still open; and what renovations will actually take place at Highland to accommodate all Dundas high school students.

James said renovation proposals for the Governor’s Road school are still vague.

“We saw at the teachers’ presentation during the ARC meeting at Highland that there are critical issues of electrical work, weather sealing and so on, that need to be addressed,” he said.

School board staff presented a report to trustees last week summarizing capital project priorities based on funding announced by the provincial government.

With no money coming for a new Dundas high school, and no provincial money for Highland renovations, board staff recommended completing improvements to the Governor’s Road school in two phases.

According to the report, phase one includes a gym and science labs and would be completed in fall 2014. Phase two includes further “renovations and upgrades” and would be completed in fall 2015.

Parkside is scheduled to be closed in summer 2014, with all students moving to Highland in fall 2014.

The total projected cost of $15-million would be funded by selling other school properties – including Parkside.

According to the cash flow breakdown in the staff report, $875,000 of the proposed budget would be spent this school year; $8.67-million in 2013-14; $4.17-million in 2014-15 and $1.28-million in 2015-16.

“And the Board, or at least some of them, seem to already be putting out the idea that perhaps Highland won’t ‘need’ all of the $15-million after all and can do it with a lot less,” James said.

“It is encouraging that (Dundas trustee) Jessica Brennan was upset with the amount Highland got, versus the West Hamilton schools. Whether she can do anything about this or not remains to be seen.”

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