As MPP for Burlington, I want to take the opportunity to update you on the conversations that I have been having with many of you regarding the ongoing Pupil Accommodation Review (PAR).
It has been a privilege to meet with and listen to so many residents and families. Your priorities are my priorities, which means the well-being and success of our students is top of mind.
Throughout the ongoing PAR process, I have spoken with every group that has been involved in or affected by the process—gathering information, responses and reactions from the voices in our community.
I hear your concerns and have shared them in my regular dialogue with school board staff and trustees, as well as local city officials. I have also kept my colleague The Honourable Mitzie Hunter updated on the situation in Burlington. I have had numerous conversations with her in which I have shared your concerns. These conversations with the School Board officials ultimately lead to a delay in the final decision, allowing more time for further discussion and exploration of various options. The Halton District School Board announced that more time would be allotted shortly before their recommendations were scheduled to be issued.
Your feedback about timelines, local priorities and the PAR process as a whole has been valuable to me in conversations with my colleagues at Queen’s Park, where we continue to discuss these important issues. As a member of provincial parliament, I do not have a formal role in this process – that is the role of your elected school board trustees, but I have always ensured that I’ve been available to support the needs of my constituents and will always bring your concerns to the table.
This is a sensitive subject and process that invokes a wide range of emotions, but it’s important to ensure these decisions are made by local decision-makers, reflecting local input.
I remain confident that the final decisions made by your local school trustees will reflect the input received regarding students’ special needs, programs, accommodations, and experiences in Burlington.
I am glad to hear that many members of our community have been actively engaging with our trustees, as I have, and I encourage trustees to carefully weigh all aspects that have been brought to them in this consultation process as this decision is an important one. Whether we’re discussing the impact that changing schools can have on any student or the important resources that our special needs students rely on, it’s critical that our trustees recognize important concerns and take all feedback into consideration.
Providing our students with the best educational opportunities is our shared priority and I will continue to support local voices as these difficult decisions are made. The investment in our children’s education and well-being is of the utmost importance in this process.
In my role as your provincial representative, along with my regional colleagues, I have discussed Halton Region student funding over the years with the Ministers of Education. And I’m pleased to say that the needs of Burlington and our neighbouring communities have been recognized through an increase in Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding by nearly $370 per student in our region.
I would also like to point to the community hubs initiative our government has implemented in collaboration with local partners. On Monday, May 1st, we launched CommunityHubsOntario.ca, a resource to support communities in making best use of public property. This program makes it easier for community organizations to use surplus schools and provides targeted funding to help community groups access schools as potential future hubs. In December, I invited Karen Pitre— Special Advisor to the Premier— to Burlington to meet with the City, School Board officials and community organizations to discuss community hubs as an option. I continue to work with the Mayor and City staff to explore opportunities, no matter what the outcome may be.
As we move beyond the current process, I hope all stakeholders will work collaboratively to ensure that our community resources are best used to meet the needs of our children and families.
Burlington children deserve the best education and it’s my sincere hope that we can work together to ensure that our community is well served now and for years to come.
— Eleanor McMahon, MPP Burlington
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