Education Minister Stephen Lecce lukewarm on Billy Green school gym request

News Jul 31, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Education Minister Stephen Lecce isn’t shutting the door on letting Hamilton’s public school board spend its own money to build a bigger gymnasium at Billy Green Elementary School, but he’s also suggesting it shouldn’t be a priority.

Asked about his government’s recent denial of the board’s request to use $2.4 million in proceeds from the sale of surplus school land for the long-promised gym, Lecce said any decision will be based on maximizing value to taxpayers.

“Our preference is to try to expand the most imminent needs, which often are the lack of classroom capacity,” he said during a July 29 stopover in upper Stoney Creek to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School.

“In the grand scheme of things we see that as a priority. But, as I say, we’ll continue to listen to the board, listen to local members and try to make the right decision for the community.”

The new gym had initially been scheduled to be built in the summer of 2018 as part of a board plan to create system-wide standards for elementary schools on gyms based on student enrolment, as well as science and art rooms, libraries and playing fields.

In Billy Green’s case, the new gym reflects that enrolment is about one and a half times the school’s 349-student capacity, requiring seven portable classrooms.

But the 2108 work didn’t happen and the gym has been on hold since May 2019, when the board asked permission to use proceeds of disposition, or property sales — money which must normally go toward repair or replacement of existing school components.

Associate director Stacey Zucker informed trustees in early June that the ministry had rejected the request, also putting in doubt promised new gyms at Queensdale, Rosedale and A.M. Cunningham schools that were to be similarly funded.

Jordan Hageman, chair of Billy Green’s school council, said the ongoing delays on the gym are frustrating for parents and staff, and have delayed other upgrades, including an outdoor classroom by the kindergarten area.

Her council raised $10,000 for architectural drawings for the latter project, budgeted at $100,000.

“The gym is hopelessly inadequate,” Hageman said. “There are places you can literally see outside because of gaps around the door jambs. Kids are not getting the full amount of (physical education) in the winter months due to overpopulation.”

Hageman said Billy Green has received the promised science, art and music room renovations, along with new washrooms for students taught in portables, but the music room is used for kindergarten because of lack of space.

“Music meets in the library, as well as some other classes, and library rotations pretty much ceased to exist,” she said.

Cam Galindo, the area’s trustee, said the Billy Green community has been “loud and clear” about the need for the new gym and the ministry’s denial of permission to use board money undermines the board’s autonomy in setting local priorities.

He said he regularly gets emails about the current gym’s inadequacy for school assemblies, apart from it being in disrepair and too small for more than one gym class at a time.

“It’s an essential aspect of a proper education,” Galindo said. “They’ve had to find interesting and creative ways to get around the challenges of having a small gym that’s in need of repairs,” he said.

“Come wintertime, it becomes a greater challenge, so it’s definitely having an impact on the education of the students.”

Galindo said the board is trying to also increase classroom capacity, as Lecce suggested, which is why it put a new school in the Nash neighbourhood on its wish list for the first round of capital funding by the Ford government.

The ministry only approved one of the board’s five favoured projects — a new Binbrook school — although Lecce said another capital funding opportunity will likely be offered before the fall.

“We know that the solution to overcrowding at Billy Green is a new school,” Galindo said, noting an addition to Mount Albion school approved by the former Liberal government in January 2018 also only got ministry approval to proceed this summer.

“It was like pulling teeth just to get Mount Albion approved.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s July 29 visit to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School offered a chance to ask him to explain his government’s denial of the public board’s request to use its own money for a long-promised new gym at Billy Green Elementary School.

 

Education Minister Stephen Lecce lukewarm on Billy Green school gym request

Classroom capacity a bigger priority, he says during Stoney Creek visit

News Jul 31, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Education Minister Stephen Lecce isn’t shutting the door on letting Hamilton’s public school board spend its own money to build a bigger gymnasium at Billy Green Elementary School, but he’s also suggesting it shouldn’t be a priority.

Asked about his government’s recent denial of the board’s request to use $2.4 million in proceeds from the sale of surplus school land for the long-promised gym, Lecce said any decision will be based on maximizing value to taxpayers.

“Our preference is to try to expand the most imminent needs, which often are the lack of classroom capacity,” he said during a July 29 stopover in upper Stoney Creek to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School.

“In the grand scheme of things we see that as a priority. But, as I say, we’ll continue to listen to the board, listen to local members and try to make the right decision for the community.”

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The new gym had initially been scheduled to be built in the summer of 2018 as part of a board plan to create system-wide standards for elementary schools on gyms based on student enrolment, as well as science and art rooms, libraries and playing fields.

In Billy Green’s case, the new gym reflects that enrolment is about one and a half times the school’s 349-student capacity, requiring seven portable classrooms.

But the 2108 work didn’t happen and the gym has been on hold since May 2019, when the board asked permission to use proceeds of disposition, or property sales — money which must normally go toward repair or replacement of existing school components.

Associate director Stacey Zucker informed trustees in early June that the ministry had rejected the request, also putting in doubt promised new gyms at Queensdale, Rosedale and A.M. Cunningham schools that were to be similarly funded.

Jordan Hageman, chair of Billy Green’s school council, said the ongoing delays on the gym are frustrating for parents and staff, and have delayed other upgrades, including an outdoor classroom by the kindergarten area.

Her council raised $10,000 for architectural drawings for the latter project, budgeted at $100,000.

“The gym is hopelessly inadequate,” Hageman said. “There are places you can literally see outside because of gaps around the door jambs. Kids are not getting the full amount of (physical education) in the winter months due to overpopulation.”

Hageman said Billy Green has received the promised science, art and music room renovations, along with new washrooms for students taught in portables, but the music room is used for kindergarten because of lack of space.

“Music meets in the library, as well as some other classes, and library rotations pretty much ceased to exist,” she said.

Cam Galindo, the area’s trustee, said the Billy Green community has been “loud and clear” about the need for the new gym and the ministry’s denial of permission to use board money undermines the board’s autonomy in setting local priorities.

He said he regularly gets emails about the current gym’s inadequacy for school assemblies, apart from it being in disrepair and too small for more than one gym class at a time.

“It’s an essential aspect of a proper education,” Galindo said. “They’ve had to find interesting and creative ways to get around the challenges of having a small gym that’s in need of repairs,” he said.

“Come wintertime, it becomes a greater challenge, so it’s definitely having an impact on the education of the students.”

Galindo said the board is trying to also increase classroom capacity, as Lecce suggested, which is why it put a new school in the Nash neighbourhood on its wish list for the first round of capital funding by the Ford government.

The ministry only approved one of the board’s five favoured projects — a new Binbrook school — although Lecce said another capital funding opportunity will likely be offered before the fall.

“We know that the solution to overcrowding at Billy Green is a new school,” Galindo said, noting an addition to Mount Albion school approved by the former Liberal government in January 2018 also only got ministry approval to proceed this summer.

“It was like pulling teeth just to get Mount Albion approved.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s July 29 visit to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School offered a chance to ask him to explain his government’s denial of the public board’s request to use its own money for a long-promised new gym at Billy Green Elementary School.

 

Education Minister Stephen Lecce lukewarm on Billy Green school gym request

Classroom capacity a bigger priority, he says during Stoney Creek visit

News Jul 31, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Education Minister Stephen Lecce isn’t shutting the door on letting Hamilton’s public school board spend its own money to build a bigger gymnasium at Billy Green Elementary School, but he’s also suggesting it shouldn’t be a priority.

Asked about his government’s recent denial of the board’s request to use $2.4 million in proceeds from the sale of surplus school land for the long-promised gym, Lecce said any decision will be based on maximizing value to taxpayers.

“Our preference is to try to expand the most imminent needs, which often are the lack of classroom capacity,” he said during a July 29 stopover in upper Stoney Creek to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School.

“In the grand scheme of things we see that as a priority. But, as I say, we’ll continue to listen to the board, listen to local members and try to make the right decision for the community.”

Related Content

The new gym had initially been scheduled to be built in the summer of 2018 as part of a board plan to create system-wide standards for elementary schools on gyms based on student enrolment, as well as science and art rooms, libraries and playing fields.

In Billy Green’s case, the new gym reflects that enrolment is about one and a half times the school’s 349-student capacity, requiring seven portable classrooms.

But the 2108 work didn’t happen and the gym has been on hold since May 2019, when the board asked permission to use proceeds of disposition, or property sales — money which must normally go toward repair or replacement of existing school components.

Associate director Stacey Zucker informed trustees in early June that the ministry had rejected the request, also putting in doubt promised new gyms at Queensdale, Rosedale and A.M. Cunningham schools that were to be similarly funded.

Jordan Hageman, chair of Billy Green’s school council, said the ongoing delays on the gym are frustrating for parents and staff, and have delayed other upgrades, including an outdoor classroom by the kindergarten area.

Her council raised $10,000 for architectural drawings for the latter project, budgeted at $100,000.

“The gym is hopelessly inadequate,” Hageman said. “There are places you can literally see outside because of gaps around the door jambs. Kids are not getting the full amount of (physical education) in the winter months due to overpopulation.”

Hageman said Billy Green has received the promised science, art and music room renovations, along with new washrooms for students taught in portables, but the music room is used for kindergarten because of lack of space.

“Music meets in the library, as well as some other classes, and library rotations pretty much ceased to exist,” she said.

Cam Galindo, the area’s trustee, said the Billy Green community has been “loud and clear” about the need for the new gym and the ministry’s denial of permission to use board money undermines the board’s autonomy in setting local priorities.

He said he regularly gets emails about the current gym’s inadequacy for school assemblies, apart from it being in disrepair and too small for more than one gym class at a time.

“It’s an essential aspect of a proper education,” Galindo said. “They’ve had to find interesting and creative ways to get around the challenges of having a small gym that’s in need of repairs,” he said.

“Come wintertime, it becomes a greater challenge, so it’s definitely having an impact on the education of the students.”

Galindo said the board is trying to also increase classroom capacity, as Lecce suggested, which is why it put a new school in the Nash neighbourhood on its wish list for the first round of capital funding by the Ford government.

The ministry only approved one of the board’s five favoured projects — a new Binbrook school — although Lecce said another capital funding opportunity will likely be offered before the fall.

“We know that the solution to overcrowding at Billy Green is a new school,” Galindo said, noting an addition to Mount Albion school approved by the former Liberal government in January 2018 also only got ministry approval to proceed this summer.

“It was like pulling teeth just to get Mount Albion approved.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s July 29 visit to publicize his government’s $14.7-million grant to rebuild St. James the Apostle Catholic School offered a chance to ask him to explain his government’s denial of the public board’s request to use its own money for a long-promised new gym at Billy Green Elementary School.