Eight Hamilton school gym expansions in limbo

News Oct 24, 2019 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is hitting a pause button on new gym expansions at elementary schools because of delays in getting Ministry of Education permission for eight already in the queue.

Associate director Stacey Zucker said staff doesn’t want to promise any new projects until the ministry approves the eight gyms, which have been awaiting a decision since May.

These include gyms at Billy Green, Mount Albion and Collegiate Avenue in Stoney Creek — the latter two are also delaying larger additions — Queensdale on the Mountain, and A.M. Cunningham, Rosedale, W.H. Ballard and Memorial in the lower city.

Zucker attributed the delays to the need to get ministry permission to use board money from the sale of surplus school properties to pay for the gym expansions, because they increase their schools’ footprint.

She said that although rules normally require the sale proceeds to go toward school repairs, the expansions in question reflect higher enrolments at the schools from population growth or absorbing students from schools closed by accommodation reviews.

Zucker said the gym projects draw on the ministry’s own standards for square footage, based on student population.

“All we’re asking for is to be able to expand the gyms to the benchmarks that the ministry has through its space template,” she told trustees on the board’s finance and facilities committee.

“We want to make sure that there’s equity across the board, so whether you’re in a new school or whether you’re in an old school, that you should have the proper space that’s been allocated by the ministry for the program needs.”

Committee chair Dawn Danko, trustee for the central Mountain, said the ministry holdup is frustrating for school communities that have gone through accommodation reviews and not seen promised upgrades.

“Any time there’s a delay in something like this, an entire group of students leaves the school and moves on to high school, and never experiences that equitable gym space,” she said.

Zucker said she believes that the board has provided all necessary supporting information for the gym expansions and the ministry is trying to come up with a consistent approval process for similar requests across the province.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily the only board that’s asking for this,” she said. “I think they’re doing whatever they can to expedite it.”

Future gym expansions on indefinite hold include ones at Central, Mary Hopkins and Hess Street — although the latter will be scrapped if the ministry approves a replacement JK-8 school on the former Sir John A. Macdonald high school site.

Sixteen other schools could potentially qualify for gym expansions if they have enough room on their properties, but must first go through an accommodation review to be eligible.

The ministry has put a freeze on accommodation reviews pending a rewrite of their rules, and Zucker said it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to upgrade schools that may close once they do go through any new process.

Eight Hamilton school gym expansions in limbo due to delays in provincial permissions

Ministry approval delays prompt public board to freeze new projects

News Oct 24, 2019 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is hitting a pause button on new gym expansions at elementary schools because of delays in getting Ministry of Education permission for eight already in the queue.

Associate director Stacey Zucker said staff doesn’t want to promise any new projects until the ministry approves the eight gyms, which have been awaiting a decision since May.

These include gyms at Billy Green, Mount Albion and Collegiate Avenue in Stoney Creek — the latter two are also delaying larger additions — Queensdale on the Mountain, and A.M. Cunningham, Rosedale, W.H. Ballard and Memorial in the lower city.

Zucker attributed the delays to the need to get ministry permission to use board money from the sale of surplus school properties to pay for the gym expansions, because they increase their schools’ footprint.

She said that although rules normally require the sale proceeds to go toward school repairs, the expansions in question reflect higher enrolments at the schools from population growth or absorbing students from schools closed by accommodation reviews.

Zucker said the gym projects draw on the ministry’s own standards for square footage, based on student population.

“All we’re asking for is to be able to expand the gyms to the benchmarks that the ministry has through its space template,” she told trustees on the board’s finance and facilities committee.

“We want to make sure that there’s equity across the board, so whether you’re in a new school or whether you’re in an old school, that you should have the proper space that’s been allocated by the ministry for the program needs.”

Committee chair Dawn Danko, trustee for the central Mountain, said the ministry holdup is frustrating for school communities that have gone through accommodation reviews and not seen promised upgrades.

“Any time there’s a delay in something like this, an entire group of students leaves the school and moves on to high school, and never experiences that equitable gym space,” she said.

Zucker said she believes that the board has provided all necessary supporting information for the gym expansions and the ministry is trying to come up with a consistent approval process for similar requests across the province.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily the only board that’s asking for this,” she said. “I think they’re doing whatever they can to expedite it.”

Future gym expansions on indefinite hold include ones at Central, Mary Hopkins and Hess Street — although the latter will be scrapped if the ministry approves a replacement JK-8 school on the former Sir John A. Macdonald high school site.

Sixteen other schools could potentially qualify for gym expansions if they have enough room on their properties, but must first go through an accommodation review to be eligible.

The ministry has put a freeze on accommodation reviews pending a rewrite of their rules, and Zucker said it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to upgrade schools that may close once they do go through any new process.

Eight Hamilton school gym expansions in limbo due to delays in provincial permissions

Ministry approval delays prompt public board to freeze new projects

News Oct 24, 2019 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

Hamilton’s public school board is hitting a pause button on new gym expansions at elementary schools because of delays in getting Ministry of Education permission for eight already in the queue.

Associate director Stacey Zucker said staff doesn’t want to promise any new projects until the ministry approves the eight gyms, which have been awaiting a decision since May.

These include gyms at Billy Green, Mount Albion and Collegiate Avenue in Stoney Creek — the latter two are also delaying larger additions — Queensdale on the Mountain, and A.M. Cunningham, Rosedale, W.H. Ballard and Memorial in the lower city.

Zucker attributed the delays to the need to get ministry permission to use board money from the sale of surplus school properties to pay for the gym expansions, because they increase their schools’ footprint.

She said that although rules normally require the sale proceeds to go toward school repairs, the expansions in question reflect higher enrolments at the schools from population growth or absorbing students from schools closed by accommodation reviews.

Zucker said the gym projects draw on the ministry’s own standards for square footage, based on student population.

“All we’re asking for is to be able to expand the gyms to the benchmarks that the ministry has through its space template,” she told trustees on the board’s finance and facilities committee.

“We want to make sure that there’s equity across the board, so whether you’re in a new school or whether you’re in an old school, that you should have the proper space that’s been allocated by the ministry for the program needs.”

Committee chair Dawn Danko, trustee for the central Mountain, said the ministry holdup is frustrating for school communities that have gone through accommodation reviews and not seen promised upgrades.

“Any time there’s a delay in something like this, an entire group of students leaves the school and moves on to high school, and never experiences that equitable gym space,” she said.

Zucker said she believes that the board has provided all necessary supporting information for the gym expansions and the ministry is trying to come up with a consistent approval process for similar requests across the province.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily the only board that’s asking for this,” she said. “I think they’re doing whatever they can to expedite it.”

Future gym expansions on indefinite hold include ones at Central, Mary Hopkins and Hess Street — although the latter will be scrapped if the ministry approves a replacement JK-8 school on the former Sir John A. Macdonald high school site.

Sixteen other schools could potentially qualify for gym expansions if they have enough room on their properties, but must first go through an accommodation review to be eligible.

The ministry has put a freeze on accommodation reviews pending a rewrite of their rules, and Zucker said it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to upgrade schools that may close once they do go through any new process.