School Closure Proposed: Help Keep Lester B. Pearson High School Open In Burlington.

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Staff at the Halton District School Board has proposed Lester B. Pearson high school be shuttered by the end of June 2018 as a preferred option, from among 19, developed by board staff to address excess pupil spaces at the secondary school level.  I am asking for your support to stop this from happening and here are my reasons why.  

The reasons for my request are simple.  

1.The school is located in a community that is starting to turn over and grow.  Many of the original owners of these homes are now in the early stages of retirement and are looking to downsize.  The reason our family chose Headon Forest community was mainly due to having both elementary and high school within walking distance. Many young families here now will be greatly impacted as their choice for home would be dependent on what schools are nearby and within walking distance.  

2.  Small class sizes means more one on one attention for students who need the extra help.  The need for additional staff support would not be there, therefore saving money on staffing needs.  We specifically wanted our children to attend Lester B. Pearson for many reasons.  The main reason being that being a smaller school we knew our children would receive the academic support and attention they would need in order to be successful.

3.  There is less stress for students in a less populated and less crowded school. A smaller school also means more space to breath and move around.  High school can be overwhelming and attending a smaller and less populated school can make the transition less stressful and a more positive experience.  

4.  Strong reputation as being a positive learning environment for  all students. Despite the fact that the school may not be the prettiest or newest and doesn't have the state of the art equipment shouldn't discount the fact that it has wonderful teachers and highly qualified teachers.  The reputation of the school is that it is one of inclusiveness and has always made students feel not only part of a school but part of their own community.

5. Closure of Lester B Pearson would have negative impact on local businesses and community as a whole.  Not only would shutting down Lester B Pearson have a negative impact on the young families in the area, but it would also greatly impact the small business in the area.  During lunch break and spares students frequently visit the local pizza shop, the Shoppers Drug Mart as well as the nearby Tim Hortons.  The steady business from students is the backbone to the success of many local businesses.  

6.  No need for portables.  Students a Lester B Pearson have the space they need to spread out and breath.  If this school closes it will result in attending the alternative nearby schools which are at or exceeding capacity, which means more students are likely to end up in portables.  This is something the school board, parents and students should want to avoid at all costs.  There are both environmental and health costs when it comes to portables.  Portables not only pose a help risk to students but they cost money too.   Portables are usually made with cheap building products such as particle board and insulating foams.  The use of such cheap materials result in poorly constructed and poorly insulated classrooms resulting in a higher number children with respiratory diseases (ie. ashtma) and chronic illness, resulting in more frequent and prolonged absences from school.  Also, unlike the traditional brick construction that has higher grade of insulation , the use of portables will result in higher energy costs especially during winter months.  

7. Lester B Pearson Achieved "EcoSchools" Certification for 5 Straight Years- June 29,2016-  Certification relates to benchmarks reached in numerous initiatives including energy conservation, waste minimization, school ground greening, environmental lessons and field trips connected to the Ontario curriculum, and environmental stewardship projects and events.  “This is a significant accomplishment that involves school-wide teamwork and leadership on the part of students, staff and community members,” said Suzanne Burwell, the board’s environmental sustainability co-ordinator. (written by Burlington Post) see full article: http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/6746434-five-halton-public-schools-achieve-ecoschools-platinum-status/

8.  Pearson On-site Daycare Facility- Meets the needs of families within the community-  Information directly from Pearson Co-oerative Nursery Day Website• Pearson Community Co-op Nursery school was the first licensed nursery lab in any academic school in Canada**The first year it opened, all 92 spaces available were full and there were 50 families on the waiting list ** Pearson traditions include the Santa Store, the annual Bunny Hop around the school, holiday concerts and much more! Visit webstie at: http://pearsonco-op.com/about/history.php

9.  Students living in the area and attending community schools benefit in many ways.  Living close to your school makes it possible for more children to walk to school as less busing is required.  

There are many benefits to students who walk to school and these benefits were clearly outlined directly on the HDSB website:

https://www.hdsb.ca/schools/Pages/Transportation/Walk-and-Wheel-to-School.aspx

Top Reaso​ns for students to walk or wheel to school - directly from Halton District School Board Website

  1. Exercise helps students learn and perform better at school  
  2. Fresh air has positive impact on mood                
  3. Cleaner environment for everyone in the community      
  4. Builds independence & self-confidence          
  5. Community Awareness- knows the neighbours, friends, and parents 

I would personally like to add my personal points of consideration regarding the above, noting that walking has some incredible health benefits for each individual themselves as well the community as a whole.  Walking promotes physical health, mental well-being, emotional well-being, environmental health/awareness, Eco-friendly, minimizes traffic and carbon emissions, closer sense of community, promotes healthy lifestyle, reduces stress and anxiety ---which can result in happier individuals, healthier lifestyles, and higher academic achievement and success for all students.  

10.  Academic/Social benefits to students attending a small school.  Students are able to receive more one on one attention.  Less classroom noise/distractions makes it easier to focus and concentrate.  More time for actual instruction and review lesson material, less time spent on admin tasks such as taking attendance, reviewing material, grading, responding to questions, managing classroom dynamics, and handing back work/papers. Smaller schools mean that there is likely to be the opportunity for more tailored instruction and more academic support.  Smaller schools tend to also have a much stronger sense of community, a place where everyone knows each other and looks out for one another. There is also a less chances of bullying in smaller school as it would be more apparent when it is happening, small school makes it easier for teachers to spot and more likely to be dealt with immediately.  

To learn more about the benefits of children walking, please visit: http://activelivingresearch.org/sites/default/files/ALR_Brief_ActiveEducation_Summer2009.pdf

I ask that you seriously consider the above noted reasons and support my request to keep Lester B. Pearson in Burlington, ON open.

11. Schools Impact Real Estate Values - When it comes to buying a home one of the most important factors to consider are the nearby amenities and that includes good schools.  Having a good school within walking distance has a direct impact on the value of Real Estate.  Homes located in areas where schools are nearby tend to be not only be priced considerably higher but they also tend to sell faster too! Many people choose their neighbourhood based solely on the schools that are there. Home buyers with young children are more likely to purchase less of a home in order to have the convenience of nearby "walk-able" schools.   *According to DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | SUNDAY, AUGUST 07, 2016 "Good Schools Give 77% Boost to Home Values"...now that is something to think about.

FACTS THAT THE BOARD & TRUSTEES  NEED TO CONSIDER: 

1. There are over 1800 empty pupil spaces in Burlington with 1267 of these open spaces are south of the QEW. Upcoming significant residential growth is north of the QEW in developments such as Alton West & Evergreen .

2. Pearson is uniquely positioned as the only north Burlington school with land available for any expansion required if enrolment growth exceeds projections. It costs 16-20 times more to build a new school than the annual carrying costs of open pupil space.

3. Pearson consistently ranks high on the annual Fraser Institute report: in 2016, Pearson was ranked 4th in Burlington secondary schools, and the 2nd highest ranked secondary school in the public board, producing stronger outcomes than MMR or Hayden.

4. Frank J Hayden has 7 feeder schools, leading to an overcapacity rate of 129% last year requiring 12 portables, which is expected to grow to 18 portables in September. Lester B Pearson has only 1 1/2 feeder elementary schools, directly contributing to the enrolment imbalance in north Burlington.

5. The catchment, or geographic area, of students attending Pearson is the smallest in Burlington. Bordered by Guelph Line & Appleby Line, roughly between Upper Middle & Mainway, the area is comprised of mostly industrial and commercial properties, severely limiting potential enrolment.

6. Option 19 would result in a 104% capacity level in north Burlington secondary schools, and all options still under consideration would result in a high usage level that leaves extremely limited space should enrolment exceed projections.

7. Small school environments, such as Pearson, provides produce higher student achievement, more positive feelings about self and school, more participation in school activities, & the opportunity for stronger relationships. There is extensive research that supports the benefits to students and need for smaller school options.

8. Originating over 40 years ago as a response to community needs with investment from the city, the Pearson Community Co-operative Nursery School has nurtured & educated children from 100 families every year, while offering LBP students co-op placements as well as affiliations with ECE programs through Sheridan and Mohawk Colleges. The non-profit school is a unique and community focused space that due to legislative and regulatory requirements cannot be easily moved or replicated elsewhere.

9. Staff consistently access & utilize the rare on site natural forestry surrounding the school to support curriculum in geography, physical education & science.

10. Pearson was built as "Lab" school, testing programs and alternative learning supporting students. There is an opportunity to return to this focus with innovative programs that look to the future: creative learning, computer coding, virtual learning.



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