COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Large impersonal schools not answer

Opinion Sep 24, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Marlon Picken, special to the News

Four years ago, when rumours started that Hill Park, the only high school in the most populous ward in Hamilton, was on the chopping block, I felt a responsibility to my community to run for trustee.

The push for school closures has escalated and I believe threatens to tear apart our communities.

The decision to close these schools came in part from recommendations made by an accommodation review committee. Well-intentioned community members were drawn into a process that at its core was divisive and unfair and in no way reflected the needs of students, parents, teachers and the community at large.

Consultations regarding school closures came too late. The community had little opportunity to explore other options that would keep their neighbourhood schools open, financially feasible and sustainable.

The focus should have been what do we do as a community to keep our schools open and neighbourhoods thriving. Instead, the process pit school against school, parent against parent, and trustees against each other.

Building schools outside of neighbourhood boundaries removes students from their local communities. There appears to be little thought given to implications massive busing and large impersonal schools will have on the quality of our children’s education and drop out rates.

Communities evolve over time, families move in, children leave, new families over time move in at a later date. To stop closures and raise revenue, we can allow schools that are facing a space surplus to open space to community agencies and organizations.

To move forward, the elected trustee must consistently engage parents, students, worker groups and the community, encouraging them to be a meaningful part of the process.

Regular and open meetings, arranged by the trustee with parents, students and teachers to share concerns, suggestions and ideas, empowers all stakeholders and nurtures a genuine relationship based on shared responsibility and vision.

We must always act on keeping our schools as the place to learn, the place to play and the place to meet.

Breaking the crisis cycle and driving forward with the vision and goals of the community will enable student success and achievement. Those are the values we as a community need to focus on.

And as for Hill Park, Linden Park, Cardinal Heights and Eastmount closing … it’s not over till it’s over.

Because of the recent closure decisions in Ward 7, public school board trustee candidates for the ward were offered the opportunity to write in the Community Columnist space. This is the final column in the series.

COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Large impersonal schools not answer

Opinion Sep 24, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Marlon Picken, special to the News

Four years ago, when rumours started that Hill Park, the only high school in the most populous ward in Hamilton, was on the chopping block, I felt a responsibility to my community to run for trustee.

The push for school closures has escalated and I believe threatens to tear apart our communities.

The decision to close these schools came in part from recommendations made by an accommodation review committee. Well-intentioned community members were drawn into a process that at its core was divisive and unfair and in no way reflected the needs of students, parents, teachers and the community at large.

Consultations regarding school closures came too late. The community had little opportunity to explore other options that would keep their neighbourhood schools open, financially feasible and sustainable.

The focus should have been what do we do as a community to keep our schools open and neighbourhoods thriving. Instead, the process pit school against school, parent against parent, and trustees against each other.

Building schools outside of neighbourhood boundaries removes students from their local communities. There appears to be little thought given to implications massive busing and large impersonal schools will have on the quality of our children’s education and drop out rates.

Communities evolve over time, families move in, children leave, new families over time move in at a later date. To stop closures and raise revenue, we can allow schools that are facing a space surplus to open space to community agencies and organizations.

To move forward, the elected trustee must consistently engage parents, students, worker groups and the community, encouraging them to be a meaningful part of the process.

Regular and open meetings, arranged by the trustee with parents, students and teachers to share concerns, suggestions and ideas, empowers all stakeholders and nurtures a genuine relationship based on shared responsibility and vision.

We must always act on keeping our schools as the place to learn, the place to play and the place to meet.

Breaking the crisis cycle and driving forward with the vision and goals of the community will enable student success and achievement. Those are the values we as a community need to focus on.

And as for Hill Park, Linden Park, Cardinal Heights and Eastmount closing … it’s not over till it’s over.

Because of the recent closure decisions in Ward 7, public school board trustee candidates for the ward were offered the opportunity to write in the Community Columnist space. This is the final column in the series.

COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Large impersonal schools not answer

Opinion Sep 24, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Marlon Picken, special to the News

Four years ago, when rumours started that Hill Park, the only high school in the most populous ward in Hamilton, was on the chopping block, I felt a responsibility to my community to run for trustee.

The push for school closures has escalated and I believe threatens to tear apart our communities.

The decision to close these schools came in part from recommendations made by an accommodation review committee. Well-intentioned community members were drawn into a process that at its core was divisive and unfair and in no way reflected the needs of students, parents, teachers and the community at large.

Consultations regarding school closures came too late. The community had little opportunity to explore other options that would keep their neighbourhood schools open, financially feasible and sustainable.

The focus should have been what do we do as a community to keep our schools open and neighbourhoods thriving. Instead, the process pit school against school, parent against parent, and trustees against each other.

Building schools outside of neighbourhood boundaries removes students from their local communities. There appears to be little thought given to implications massive busing and large impersonal schools will have on the quality of our children’s education and drop out rates.

Communities evolve over time, families move in, children leave, new families over time move in at a later date. To stop closures and raise revenue, we can allow schools that are facing a space surplus to open space to community agencies and organizations.

To move forward, the elected trustee must consistently engage parents, students, worker groups and the community, encouraging them to be a meaningful part of the process.

Regular and open meetings, arranged by the trustee with parents, students and teachers to share concerns, suggestions and ideas, empowers all stakeholders and nurtures a genuine relationship based on shared responsibility and vision.

We must always act on keeping our schools as the place to learn, the place to play and the place to meet.

Breaking the crisis cycle and driving forward with the vision and goals of the community will enable student success and achievement. Those are the values we as a community need to focus on.

And as for Hill Park, Linden Park, Cardinal Heights and Eastmount closing … it’s not over till it’s over.

Because of the recent closure decisions in Ward 7, public school board trustee candidates for the ward were offered the opportunity to write in the Community Columnist space. This is the final column in the series.