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Public board hits jackpot on Mountain, Ancaster schools

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair Jessica Brennan says she’s “absolutely thrilled” by today’s announcement that the province will fund a new high school on the south Mountain and an elementary school in Ancaster’s Meadowlands.

While the board won’t find out the precise dollar amounts until next week, Brennan said she’s hopeful they will reflect businesses cases submitted to the Ministry of Education last fall.

The board had sought $31.8 million for the Mountain high school – the same amount it received last year for a new high school being built by the Pan Am stadium – which will replace Barton and Hill Park.

It had proposed to partner with the French public board at the Mountain site, located in Shermal Estates by the corner of Upper Sherman Avenue and Rymal Road, but today’s funding is only for the public board high school.

The board also asked for enough money for a second Meadowlands elementary school of 500 to 600 students, estimated to cost $7 million to $10 million.

The province didn’t provide cash for other capital priorities submitted last fall, including $16 million to renovate Highland Secondary School to accommodate students from Parkside, slated to close in June 2015.

But Brennan said today’s announcement frees up dollars to address Highland, which is being renamed Dundas Valley Secondary School, and other projects.

“It’s all very, very good news,” she said. “It may allow us to do renovations on the remaining secondary schools and elementary schools that are not closing and that aren’t getting additions built, but that need new elements.”

The funding comes as trustees are set to receive the final three of four elementary accommodation review reports on Monday, precipitating a 60-day “cooling off” period to allow the public to digest and respond to the reports and staff recommendations.

Up to 11 elementary schools across the city could be shuttered under the staff plans, including three on the Mountain, four in the lower east end, three in West Flamborough and Bell-Stone in Binbrook.

Trustees will hear formal public delegations on the recommendations in late April and early May, and hope to reach a final decision in June.

But Brennan said trustees could choose to extend that timeline based on public feedback.

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