Hamilton's French Catholic board rejects $26M shared high school on east Mountain

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hamilton’s French Catholic school board has spurned the Ministry of Education’s offer to provide $26 million for a new high school on the east Mountain if it shares the building with the French public board.

French Catholic board chair Melinda Chartrand said the proposal is inadequate because it only provides 350 seats for her board, rather than the 475 needed.

She said requiring a partnership also treats her board differently than Hamilton’s English public and Catholic boards, which have both received funding for new, stand-alone high schools in recent years.

Chartrand said her board will continue suing the province for a $23-million, stand-alone school, a decision backed by parents and students who rejected the province’s offer “quite loudly and unanimously” at a Feb. 10 meeting.

“Like the other school boards, we also want to have access to our own school,” she said. “The parents are saying: ‘we can’t really (have) half a school; 350 doesn’t meet the needs. We can’t move forward to providing the services that we need.’”

But ministry spokesperson Derek Luk said neither the French Catholic board’s historical nor projected enrolments support the case for a 475-student school.

He said the ministry offered funding to buy 3.8 hectares of vacant land from the Hamilton public board on Broughton Avenue and build a 700-student school for grades 7 to 12 to be evenly shared by both French boards.

Luk said the French public board has accepted the plan and the offer to the French Catholic board “remains valid until further notice.”

“The ministry believes that the proposed 700 pupil places French-language secondary school is comparable to schools in the area,” he said.

The French Catholic board initiated its lawsuit in November 2013, arguing the ministry is violating Charter of Rights provisions requiring provinces to provide French-language schools that are substantially equal to their English counterparts.

Chartrand said the board’s present high school on the east Mountain, Académie Catholique Mère-Teresa, is clearly inadequate because it is a converted elementary school and doesn’t have a playing field or full-sized gym.

She said the Lisgar Court school, which has nearly 300 students in grades 7 to 12, is losing students to other boards as a result and she’s confident a new, bigger school would quickly reach capacity based on her board’s experiences elsewhere.

“It’s a huge loss to the French culture and future because our school is too small and can’t offer the programs (students) would like to see,” she said. “They’ve waited so long and they’re getting tired.”

Jean-Francois L’Heureux, president of Hamilton’s French public board, called the ministry funding “good news” and said he’s disappointed by his Catholic counterpart’s rejection of the plan.

He said he wants the ministry will let his board proceed with building the school as soon as possible “and hopefully the Catholic board will join in sooner than later.”

French public high school students presently attend École secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier on Macklin Street North in the lower city.

L’Heureux said the former elementary school is also inadequate and students can’t wait any longer for a new school.

“Let’s try to be smart about it and use the taxpayers’ money wisely,” he said. “The students on the public side shouldn’t be impacted or victim of the decline of the offer.”

Chartrand said her board is striking a committee of parents and students to press its case to Education Minister Liz Sandals.

Luk said Sandals “has previously met with them to discuss their request,” but the ministry is willing to continue discussions.

Hamilton's French Catholic board rejects $26M shared high school on east Mountain

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hamilton’s French Catholic school board has spurned the Ministry of Education’s offer to provide $26 million for a new high school on the east Mountain if it shares the building with the French public board.

French Catholic board chair Melinda Chartrand said the proposal is inadequate because it only provides 350 seats for her board, rather than the 475 needed.

She said requiring a partnership also treats her board differently than Hamilton’s English public and Catholic boards, which have both received funding for new, stand-alone high schools in recent years.

Chartrand said her board will continue suing the province for a $23-million, stand-alone school, a decision backed by parents and students who rejected the province’s offer “quite loudly and unanimously” at a Feb. 10 meeting.

“Like the other school boards, we also want to have access to our own school,” she said. “The parents are saying: ‘we can’t really (have) half a school; 350 doesn’t meet the needs. We can’t move forward to providing the services that we need.’”

But ministry spokesperson Derek Luk said neither the French Catholic board’s historical nor projected enrolments support the case for a 475-student school.

He said the ministry offered funding to buy 3.8 hectares of vacant land from the Hamilton public board on Broughton Avenue and build a 700-student school for grades 7 to 12 to be evenly shared by both French boards.

Luk said the French public board has accepted the plan and the offer to the French Catholic board “remains valid until further notice.”

“The ministry believes that the proposed 700 pupil places French-language secondary school is comparable to schools in the area,” he said.

The French Catholic board initiated its lawsuit in November 2013, arguing the ministry is violating Charter of Rights provisions requiring provinces to provide French-language schools that are substantially equal to their English counterparts.

Chartrand said the board’s present high school on the east Mountain, Académie Catholique Mère-Teresa, is clearly inadequate because it is a converted elementary school and doesn’t have a playing field or full-sized gym.

She said the Lisgar Court school, which has nearly 300 students in grades 7 to 12, is losing students to other boards as a result and she’s confident a new, bigger school would quickly reach capacity based on her board’s experiences elsewhere.

“It’s a huge loss to the French culture and future because our school is too small and can’t offer the programs (students) would like to see,” she said. “They’ve waited so long and they’re getting tired.”

Jean-Francois L’Heureux, president of Hamilton’s French public board, called the ministry funding “good news” and said he’s disappointed by his Catholic counterpart’s rejection of the plan.

He said he wants the ministry will let his board proceed with building the school as soon as possible “and hopefully the Catholic board will join in sooner than later.”

French public high school students presently attend École secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier on Macklin Street North in the lower city.

L’Heureux said the former elementary school is also inadequate and students can’t wait any longer for a new school.

“Let’s try to be smart about it and use the taxpayers’ money wisely,” he said. “The students on the public side shouldn’t be impacted or victim of the decline of the offer.”

Chartrand said her board is striking a committee of parents and students to press its case to Education Minister Liz Sandals.

Luk said Sandals “has previously met with them to discuss their request,” but the ministry is willing to continue discussions.

Hamilton's French Catholic board rejects $26M shared high school on east Mountain

News Feb 19, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

Hamilton’s French Catholic school board has spurned the Ministry of Education’s offer to provide $26 million for a new high school on the east Mountain if it shares the building with the French public board.

French Catholic board chair Melinda Chartrand said the proposal is inadequate because it only provides 350 seats for her board, rather than the 475 needed.

She said requiring a partnership also treats her board differently than Hamilton’s English public and Catholic boards, which have both received funding for new, stand-alone high schools in recent years.

Chartrand said her board will continue suing the province for a $23-million, stand-alone school, a decision backed by parents and students who rejected the province’s offer “quite loudly and unanimously” at a Feb. 10 meeting.

“Like the other school boards, we also want to have access to our own school,” she said. “The parents are saying: ‘we can’t really (have) half a school; 350 doesn’t meet the needs. We can’t move forward to providing the services that we need.’”

But ministry spokesperson Derek Luk said neither the French Catholic board’s historical nor projected enrolments support the case for a 475-student school.

He said the ministry offered funding to buy 3.8 hectares of vacant land from the Hamilton public board on Broughton Avenue and build a 700-student school for grades 7 to 12 to be evenly shared by both French boards.

Luk said the French public board has accepted the plan and the offer to the French Catholic board “remains valid until further notice.”

“The ministry believes that the proposed 700 pupil places French-language secondary school is comparable to schools in the area,” he said.

The French Catholic board initiated its lawsuit in November 2013, arguing the ministry is violating Charter of Rights provisions requiring provinces to provide French-language schools that are substantially equal to their English counterparts.

Chartrand said the board’s present high school on the east Mountain, Académie Catholique Mère-Teresa, is clearly inadequate because it is a converted elementary school and doesn’t have a playing field or full-sized gym.

She said the Lisgar Court school, which has nearly 300 students in grades 7 to 12, is losing students to other boards as a result and she’s confident a new, bigger school would quickly reach capacity based on her board’s experiences elsewhere.

“It’s a huge loss to the French culture and future because our school is too small and can’t offer the programs (students) would like to see,” she said. “They’ve waited so long and they’re getting tired.”

Jean-Francois L’Heureux, president of Hamilton’s French public board, called the ministry funding “good news” and said he’s disappointed by his Catholic counterpart’s rejection of the plan.

He said he wants the ministry will let his board proceed with building the school as soon as possible “and hopefully the Catholic board will join in sooner than later.”

French public high school students presently attend École secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier on Macklin Street North in the lower city.

L’Heureux said the former elementary school is also inadequate and students can’t wait any longer for a new school.

“Let’s try to be smart about it and use the taxpayers’ money wisely,” he said. “The students on the public side shouldn’t be impacted or victim of the decline of the offer.”

Chartrand said her board is striking a committee of parents and students to press its case to Education Minister Liz Sandals.

Luk said Sandals “has previously met with them to discuss their request,” but the ministry is willing to continue discussions.