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May 30, 2012 Hon.

Laurel Broten Minister of Education 22nd Floor, Mowat Block 900 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2 BY FAX (416-325-2608) AND EMAIL (minister.edu@ontario.ca) Dear Minister, RE: Request for an Administrative Review of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) decision to close Prince Philip Elementary School I am writing to request an Administrative Review of the accommodation review process undertaken by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) to close Prince Philip Elementary School (Prince Philip). On April 30, 2012 the HWDSB Board of Trustees voted to close Prince Philip in June 2013 and that its students (and the existing programming) be relocated to G. R. Allan School, effective September 2013. Attached to this letter as Appendix A is a petition signed by parents and guardians of Prince Philip students and by people who participated in the HWDSB's Dalewood Area Accommodation Review Committee (the Dalewood ARC) that had recommended that Prince Philip remain open and whose recommendations were ignored by the HWDSB in its final decision. The petition summarizes the arguments set forth in this letter; that summary was available to the signatories and is attached as part of Appendix A. The HWDSB's Pupil Accommodation Review Policy (the PARP) is attached to this letter as Appendix B. The petitioners believe that the HWDSB did not follow the PARP in the following ways: 1. Failure to properly determine capital needs and priorities The HWDSB's PARP states in subsection 2.2 that Periodically the Associate Director shall ensure that a report is prepared to update the Boards Longterm Capital Plan. The capital update report is part of the ongoing capital planning process and is intended to provide for a review of capital needs and the determination of priorities. The report will also serve to identify the need to consider closure of a school or schools. The HWDSB failed to properly determine the capital needs and priorities regarding the three schools involved in the Dalewood ARC: Prince Philip, George R. Allan Elementary School (GRA) and Dalewood Middle School (Dalewood). The principal failures involved (a) a longstanding failure and/or refusal to correct errors in data that HWDSB provided to the Ontario Ministry of Education 1 / 11

(MoE) regarding the capital needs of Prince Philip and Dalewood schools; (b) a longstanding failure and/or refusal to properly document the capital requirements of Prince Philip and Dalewood schools; (c) persistent attempts to provide misleading and inaccurate information on capital requirements to the Dalewood ARC; (d) reliance on a methodology known to have serious deficiencies in preparing documentation of the capital needs of schools; and (e) a refusal to make a redetermination of capital priorities and requirements when deficiencies were brought to the HWDSB's attention throughout the Dalewood ARC process. (a) failure to correct errors in data provided to MoE and Trustees The HWDSB had made longstanding errors in calculating the Facility Condition Index (FCI) of Dalewood and Prince Philip. In 2003-2004, these errors had led to Prince Philip and Dalewood being declared Prohibitive to Repair (PTR), a result that for several years excluded these schools from nonemergency capital investment and Good Places to Learn funding from the MoE. Furthermore, there are contrary explanation of when the errors were acknowledged. Trustees have maintained that it was only when the Dalewood ARC published their recommendation in October 2011 (after the completion of most of the ARC process) that the Trustees were made aware of the errors and of the corrected figures. The discrepancy of Facility Condition Index amounted to 46% for Prince Philip and 130% for Dalewood. These are significant discrepancies that HWDSB staff failed to inform Trustees of for several months during which an ARC was ongoing. In 2006, your Ministry allowed school boards to add or remove schools from their PTR inventories. Despite the many questions that the Dalewood community had concerning the designation of these schools (see below), the board refused to investigate the condition of Dalewood and Prince Philip in order to remove them from the list and restore access to capital funding. However, as was later discovered, throughout this time Dalewood and Prince Philip were erroneously designated PTR, errors that would have been discovered if due diligence investigation had been done. (b) failure to properly document capital requirements When Dalewood and Prince Philip were declared PTR in 2003-2004, the local community responded by forming the West Hamilton Schools Planning Committee, which included our Municipal Councillor Brian McHattie, to proactively deal with the perceived threat to our schools that this represented. Questions were raised about the quality of FCI data as there was no visible evidence of disrepair in the physical condition of the schools at that time. However, HWDSB staff refused to revisit or investigate the capital requirements claimed through FCI. In January 2011, the HWDSB voted (as the Committee of the Whole) to approve the Dalewood ARC. Reports submitted to Trustees for this vote contained erroneous FCI data for Prince Philip and Dalewood. Staff state that errors in this data were discovered shortly after the vote. However, as will be seen below, these errors were not communicated. Furthermore, as will be demonstrated below, the ReCAPP 2 / 11

data on which capital requirements are based has many faults and has not been checked or reviewed by site inspections as the software is intended to be used. (c) provision of misleading and inaccurate data on capital requirements to the Dalewood ARC The first public meeting of the Dalewood ARC was held on April 6, 2011. As part of the presentation to the public, in reference to the earlier questions raised by the West Hamilton Schools Planning Committee, staff stated early community concerns about the questionable PTR designation can be reviewed in a new context. At this meeting, correct FCI numbers were surreptitiously presented as part of the data but no mention of the corrections were ever made, nor was the fact that the board did not inform the public or the ARC that the PTR designations were erroneous. It was only in response to a question about FCI data during a discussion at an ARC Working Meeting on June 22 that it came to light for the first time, through Trustee Judith Bishop, that the PTR designations had in fact been erroneous, but the errors in the FCI data that underlay the erroneous designation were not disclosed. Subsequently, at a September 14, 2011 working meeting, the ARC was given a report (long after an initial request) by HWDSB Staff to the Trustees in advance of the January 2011 vote to commence the Dalewood ARC. In this report, the incorrect numbers are shown and were not corrected, and no connection between the corrected data and the faulty PTR designation is made. Only in response to a direct question, in the September 27, 2011 working meeting, did HWDSB staff finally admit to the ARC members that discrepancies in FCI data were due to the original data being incorrect and having been compiled in error. ARC members continued to attempt to wring information from HWDSB staff in the face of minimal responses. HWDSB staff declined to answer a question at a working meeting on October 12, 2011 about whether the ARC had been initiated erroneously or without due authorization because of incorrect data given to Trustees. Finally, at another working meeting on November 23, 2011, five weeks after the ARC had already arrived at a recommendation to be presented to the public, HWDSB staff admitted to the ARC members that they had erroneously compiled faulty FCI data and that that data had been the driving force behind faulty PTR designations for Dalewood and Prince Philip going back to 2003-2004. At a meeting of the Trustees (sitting as the Committee of the Whole) on January 16, 2012 HWDSB Director John Malloy stated that the trustees were made aware of the FCI error at the time of its discovery, with staff getting together and concluding that there were more reasons to proceed and engage with the ARC process. However, Trustees indicated that they were not made aware of the errors at this time and only learned of them when the Dalewood ARC made its report public. Finally, on April 3, 2012, HWDSB staff indicated in response to a question from Trustees that they would not have initiated the Dalewood ARC had they had discovered the FCI error prior to the Trustee vote. Throughout the ARC process the data provided to the ARC was of uncertain quality and served especially to muddy the waters of public debate and consideration. 3 / 11

(d) reliance on methodology known to be deficient HWDSB Staff's recommendation to close Prince Philip is based in significant degree (see section 2 below) on a figure of approximately $3,000,000 to be saved in deferred maintenance costs. This estimate was arrived at through data compiled through Renewal Capital Asset Planning Process software (ReCAPP) a statistical package designed to provide lifespan and replacement cost estimates on building components, and mandated by your Ministry for use by all school boards across the province. The aim of ReCAPP is to set long-term budget priorities and schedule inspections. Without a site review, ReCAPP cannot accurately estimate actual requirements; there are inherent uncertainties in any lifespan estimate of a building component, particularly as regards materials, quality of manufacture, and levels of use. ReCAPP may provide an adequate aggregate picture over a large stock of buildings such as a school board but is of no utility for specific buildings due to this variance. HWDSB Staff reported to the Trustees that they are continually conducting field checks to assess an items condition against the recommendation and work history. There is a procedure in place to validate ReCAPP data in determining capital priorities, which includes site reviews and an examination of repair and work order history for components. However, these checks and reviews were not undertaken to validate the ReCAPP data for the schools in the Dalewood ARC and to our knowledge have never been done for those schools, in particular not for the claimed necessary capital funding on which the HWDSB has mandated the closure of Prince Philip (see section 2 below). This misuse of unvalidated ReCAPP estimates artificially inflates the costs of keeping Prince Philip school open. The Board claims to have spent $120,000 in capital improvements on Prince Philip in the last 10 years. Prince Philip remains in excellent condition for learning. Yet, the HWDSB claim to be saving over $3,000,000 in capital expenditures by closing the school, funds which they would not expend in any case. Inspections of items in the ReCAPP list for Prince Philip have been conducted by experienced persons in our community who have determined these components to be in a working and safe condition. HWDSB staff and Trustees have never addressed these issues despite having been confronted with them continuously throughout this process and by other ARCs ongoing throughout the HWDSB. (e) refusal to correct and redetermine capital requirements and priorities These issues have been brought to the HWDSB's attention through communications by community members and most importantly by the Dalewood ARC in its report. HWDSB has never responded to these concerns and has refused to examine the actual capital requirements through inspection and a review of the data.

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2. Failure to consider the Dalewood ARC Report The HWDSB Trustees received the report of the Dalewood ARC on January 16, 2012. Subsection 3.1 of the HWDSB PARP provides as follows: The Accommodation Review is lead [sic] by an ARC appointed by the Board. The ARC assumes an advisory role and will provide recommendations that will inform the final decision made by the Board of Trustees. The HWDSB has failed to follow its policy as it has never employed the Dalewood ARC's final report (the ARC Report) in adopting its final decision. All of the issues raised by the ARC Report remain unanswered by the Board of Trustees in making its decision, which decision was arrived at without any reference to the ARC Report on behalf of the Trustees who voted to close Prince Philip. The Trustees' explanation for the decision to close Prince Philip We examined the HWDSB staff report and each of the trustees' public explanations for the decision to close Prince Philip. The following is an exhaustive list of reasons provided, by HWDSB staff in their reports and by the Trustees in their statements in committee, why the recommendations in the ARC Report was not the most suitable option for student accommodation in the Dalewood area: capital funding requirements of the schools which could be supplied out of the sale of Prince Philip; low enrolment projections for the Dalewood ARC area as a whole.

All other issues raised within the Dalewood ARC Report, including Program Offerings, Quality Teaching and Learning Environments, Transportation, Partnerships, and Equity (as mandated by the Terms of Reference of the ARC), remain entirely unaddressed. The HWDSB Staff Report provided to the Trustees commits to developing recommendations to address some of these issues but there has not been any follow through to our knowledge; however, the HWDSB has finished the process without meaningfully addressing those issues. Also unaddressed by the HWDSB (including both Trustees and the Staff Report) are issues with: data quality regarding (i) enrolment projections and (ii) capital requirements; walkability; student outcomes including student performance and availability of extracurricular activity; parent engagement; and community use of facilities.

All of these issues were addressed by the ARC report. Of foremost concern remains the issue of data 5 / 11

quality and the specific analysis provided by the ARC regarding the poor quality and methodology (and poor past performance) of the data employed by HWDSB staff in making its closure recommendation, as well as the poor and highly variable quality of the data provided to the ARC. To our knowledge, none of these issues have ever been addressed by Trustees or HWDSB Staff in the HWDSB's adoption of the Staff recommendation. 3. Failure to provide adequate Reference Criteria to the Dalewood ARC Subsection 3.3 of the HWDSB PARP provides that: The Board will provide the ARC with a [sic] Terms of Reference that includes the following components: ... (b) Reference Criteria frames the parameters of the ARC discussion and includes the educational and accommodation criteria for examining schools under review and accommodation options, i.e. Grade configuration, school utilization, and program offerings. The HWDSB's Terms of Reference did not properly frame the parameters of the ARC discussion and failed to include the most important factors expressed by the HWDSB and its Board of Trustees. The Terms of Reference were entirely misleading to the members of the Dalewood ARC and to the public. At several points after the ARC had submitted its report, Trustees and HWDSB staff have stated that due to accommodation issues, one school in the Dalewood ARC had to be closed. Many of us who followed the ARC closely as members of the public felt genuinely surprised and confused by these statements; it was the first time during the entire process that we had heard this statement. The Terms of Reference, and the accommodation options outlined by board staff for the Dalewood ARC, do not convey this picture. The accommodation options provided by the HWDSB staff clearly include options where all three schools remain open, and members of the ARC have informed us that their deliberations would have been extremely different had there been better guidance from the HWDSB regarding the HWDSB views of the bottom line of the ARC process. As ARC member Nadia Coakley put it: The ARC did what the community asked for. We took their wants and needs into consideration as well. We were not told that we had to close a school. If we were told that the outcome would have been very different and we would have come up with a workable solution. In addition, at several points during the Trustees' discussion of the Dalewood ARC report, the issue of grade configuration has been raised. Yet in spite of the specific policy directive to make grade configuration a criterion of reference, it does not appear in the Dalewood ARC Terms of Reference. However, grade configuration has specifically been mentioned by Trustees Bishop and Brennan in providing the rationale for a decision to close Prince Philip. However, as this issue was not part of the Terms of Reference provided to the ARC, the ARC was unable to provide the guidance required to the 6 / 11

Trustees. 4. Failure to provide adequate School Information Profiles to the Dalewood ARC, to the public, and to Trustees Section 5 of the HWDSB PARP provides that: Board administration are required to develop a School Information Profile to help the ARC and the community understand how well schools meet the objectives and the Reference Criteria outlined in the Terms of Reference. The School Information Profile includes data for each of the following four considerations about the school(s)... A School Information Profile will be completed by Board administration for each of the schools under review. Enrolment data and capacity data are key aspects of the School Information Profile, because of the importance of utilization in making accommodation decisions (however, we note that Value to the Student is to be paramount; however, these issues have never been dealt with by HWDSB Trustees or Staff during the ARC process). However, despite the importance of good data in making decisions in this area, the HWDSB throughout the ARC period continually revised the estimates of future enrolment for the schools in the Dalewood ARC region. This obviously has significant impact in discussions of school utilization, a key component mentioned time and again by staff and Trustees after the ARC submitted its report. The ARC reviewed the Boards prior predictive performance in enrolment projections and studied this issue closely. Previous projections, including a 2003 Accommodation Strategy report, were examined and found massive variance to real numbers, always on the low side. (Projections only five years out, to 2008, found variance in enrolment figures of 90%, 67%, and 24% for George R. Allan, Prince Phillip, and Dalewood respectively. Similarly, enrolment projections offered by the HWDSB to the Dalewood ARC varied enormously over the few short months that the ARC sat. Enrolment projections varied by as much as 41% for Dalewood and 33% for George R. Allan. These extreme variances raise a significant issue of data quality and reliability. ARC members also raised issues of data quality. The ARC noted that the HWDSB projections underestimated program-driven enrolment by as much as 48 pupil places at Prince Phillip (this number could expand further to an additional 63 pupil places with the newly approved expansion of the Mandarin Program). The HWDSB made unsupportable assumptions in respect of out-of-catchment students, at odds with HWDSB policy. They also significantly under-estimated kindergarten registration at George R. Allan. Actual 2011 enrolment numbers were 34 pupils higher than projections made in June 2011. This again raises significant questions of data quality and reliability. However, in response to these concerns the HWDSB did nothing and continued to provide unreviewed projections. The under-estimations of the Mandarin and Special Education Programs, the discounting of out-ofcatchment students currently enrolled, and the downward revisions of projections after the discovery of the FCI errors, creates the perception of a bias toward the most pessimistic future enrolment numbers; the significant variation in staffs 2003 projections for 2008 vs. actual enrolments instils a lack of 7 / 11

confidence in the use of these projections as a rationale for school closure. However, no review of projections was done and the HWDSB staff and Trustees continued to use these questionable projections throughout the ARC process. There were also significant issues with estimates of school capacity within the School Information Profiles and other data provided to the Dalewood ARC, to the Trustees, and to the public. A member of the public who followed the ARC process closely documented these: The minutes of the April 6 meeting have some omissions. People requested the background to the calculations of enrolment projections... There are two sets of conflicting data in the presentation made by the Board Staff on April 6, and when questioned on this, staff distinctly stated that we should be using the second table (as in the school profiles) which indicates current utilization rates of 103, 102 , and 108% for Dalewood, Prince Philip, and GR Allan schools, respectively. This is based on capacities of 368, 184, 437 pupil places. However the other table indicates places of 392, 233, 498 and we were told this is not the one we should use... I was surprised to find that the Board Recommendations presented April 28 use the capacities of 392, 233, 498 pupils, in direct contradiction to the information given us April 6. Further, I note there is a third set of data with Dalewood enrolment predictions changed from 447 to 31 in 5 years and from 418 to 297 in 10 years. [note: this is similar to the issue identified above] ...This is critical, because the original SIP shows schools are currently over capacity, both Dalewood and Prince Philip will be about 20% over capacity in 5 years, and about 14% over capacity in 10 years. GR Allan is currently over capacity, and this will decrease to about 80% capacity (though we were told this includes the basement rooms that many including myself feel should not be classrooms due to environmental concerns; again not in the April 6 minutes). However the Board recommendation is based on assumption that 10 year enrolment predictions will be 76, 89, 69% of capacity. I am concerned that the proposed addition to GR Allan School may be too small to accommodate all the students from both GR Allan and Prince Philip schools. The failure by the HWDSB to present clear and consistent data in its School Information Profiles and to other stakeholders in the ARC process has, we feel, undermined the ability of the ARC to make the best possible recommendation, has prevented the public from understanding the true facts at hand, and has prevented the HWDSB Trustees from understanding the utilization issues they are dealing with. These serious concerns with School Information Profiles have gone unanswered by the HWDSB. 5. Failure to abide by Terms of Reference The Terms of Reference, established under subsection 3.3 of the HWDSB PARP, provided that the key criteria to be used by the ARC included the following criteria: Facility Utilization, Permanent and NonPermanent Accommodation, Program Offerings, Quality Teaching and Learning Environments, Transportation, Partnerships, and Equity. However, while these criteria were adopted and considered carefully by the ARC in preparing its report, they were not respected by HWDSB Trustees and Staff in arriving at their decision. 8 / 11

As one parent has stated to our committee: the terms of reference and response to questions at the public meetings indicated that what was best for the students, community, business were to be major factors; however the staff recommendations appeared to focus strictly on economics, and even then are heavily reliant on provincial funding (i.e., the recommendation is not economical if provincial capital funding is not received). There was no mention by the staff report of walkability, community health (or destruction), business, alternative funding, small schools being better for early learning. Nor was the HWDSB's decision in keeping with these criteria established by the Terms of Reference, and as stated above, the HWDSB did not correct obvious and troubling errors in the data that it used in preparing and adopting recommendations on the grounds (facility condition, capital needs, and facility utilization) that it did consider. 6. Initiation of the Dalewood ARC was contrary to policy Subsection 2.3 of the HWDSB PARP provides that: if the Board believes that it may be necessary to close one or more schools offering elementary or secondary regular day-school programs in an area it will establish an Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) to undertake a public review of the facilities and learning opportunities for students. Statements by Trustees have indicated that the Dalewood ARC would not have been initiated had the failures to properly document and assess the capital requirements of Prince Philip and Dalewood schools (as addressed above in section 2(a) and 2(b)) been known. However, HWDSB was aware of these significant errors before the Dalewood ARC began to meet; yet nothing was done to make the Trustees aware of the situation nor was the decision to initiate the Dalewood ARC revisited. However, it is clear from the statements made by several individuals that the Board's belief that one of the schools in the Dalewood ARC may need to close, was entirely contingent and dependent on the high capital needs and priorities of the schools in the Dalewood ARC. These capital needs did not, in fact, exist, as demonstrated by the corrected FCI data the HWDSB staff discovered in early 2011 but which Trustees indicate they did not see until much later. In the absence of such high capital needs, as demonstrated by statements made by Trustees during the process, there was no belief that it was necessary to close one of the schools and therefore the establishment of an ARC was not permitted under the PARP. 7. Failure to act in good faith Implicit in the HWDSB PARP is the need for the HWDSB to act in good faith towards the public that is consulted as a part of the ARC process. The HWDSB, including both its staff and its trustees, have failed to act in good faith towards the public being consulted during the ARC. A number of acts on behalf of both staff and Trustees have demonstrated bad faith towards the public by intentionally misleading them about the ARC and the opinion of HWDSB (both its staff and its trustees) regarding 9 / 11

the schools in the Dalewood ARC. Members of the public were seriously misled by staff about the HWDSB's position during public ARC meetings. As one parent recounted: I stood up at the microphone at Public Meeting #2 and called for the Board to be honest with the community and for its representatives to admit that a school in the area would be closed... At some point during the first part of my statement, the Chair (HWDSB staff member Krys Croxall) replied that an ARC is formed not only for the closing of schools but also for the changing of programmes. She stated that there was still a possibility to keep all 3 schools open. However, as we have seen, once the ARC's report was submitted and only at that time, the HWDSB staff and some Trustees began to make statements to the effect that one school must close. HWDSB staff have also attempted to obfuscate attempts by the ARC and the public to clarify its role in the process. Staff stated in its report to the Trustees that the public was made aware of the erroneous FCI data leading to the wrongful PTR designations of Dalewood and Prince Philip, at the first public meeting of the ARC on April 6, 2011. A similar claim appears in a letter in response to ARC member Kristen West from HWDSB Associate Director Ken Bain dated March 28, 2012. However, the minutes and videotape of the April 6, 2011 ARC meeting indicate that these claims are untrue. The Dalewood ARC itself also suffered numerous difficulties with HWDSB staff in obtaining the necessary information to engage in free and independent decision-making. Members of the ARC have complained about information they requested of the HWDSB being late, being inaccurate, and being surreptitiously changed. Different information was also presented in different forums according to context. In particular, a statement by ARC member Nadia Coakley indicates that the Board provided varying information in public ARC meetings and working ARC meetings, without members being told of changes; this included Board staff making surreptitious changes to information prepared by the ARC members for a presentation to a public meeting: Another issue is that we usually received the information that we asked for late or part of it was missing... I had asked for various things and never received them. Sometimes we asked for things and what we got was pathetic. We asked for the background information that led to the creation of this ARC in the first place. We received a piece of paper with a paragraph on it. It was not helpful nor was it what we were looking for. On October 19th 2011 we had a public meeting at Dalewood. The enrolment numbers we had been given were different from the ones which were presented at the meeting. The board staff changed them and didn't tell us. Kristen (I think) was presenting and the numbers did not make sense to her because they were not what we had discussed at the meeting previously. Trustees also interfered in the ARC process itself. One ARC member recounts: The parent [ARC members] had a separate meeting in... summer 2011 so that we could actually talk and discuss options. We didn't feel like we had the freedom to express ourselves. Our ideas were also 10 / 11

frequently criticized by Judith Bishop. She only supported the staff recommendation and did not listen to us or the community. She always had a rant during the meetings where she would tell us we were wrong. As our elected (or acclaimed in this case) representative you would think she too could be neutral The HWDSB acted in bad faith towards the public, in particular regarding the stakeholders in Prince Philip and Dalewood, by failing to properly evaluate the schools' capital needs and failing to undertake necessary due diligence regarding the PTR designation, as described above in section 2. It is at times difficult, in reviewing this story, to believe that the HWDSB has not intentionally deprived these schools of capital funding in order to hasten a crisis that would lead to the closure of Prince Philip. Conclusion As the HWDSB, on the above basis, failed to follow its accommodation review policy as mandated by the Ministry's Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines, the signatories to our petition request that you appoint an independent facilitator to review the HWDSB's accommodation review process for the Dalewood Area culminating in the decision to close Prince Philip. We also make one final request. Given that this province and its government has generally mandated the use of Smart Growth principles in urban planning under the Places To Grow Act, 2005, we ask that you direct the facilitator to be mindful of your government's Places To Grow plan for growth and development in seeking solutions to the HWDSB's failure to abide by the PARP. Please feel free to contact the undersigned if there is anything unclear about the nature of our request or our submissions. Sincerely,

Craig Burley, representative of the signatories 222 Haddon Avenue South Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1Y1 Telephone (905) 523-4812 Fax (866) 605-3524 E-mail craig.burley@gmail.com weneed3.com cc: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

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