The Halton District School Board (HDSB) has voted to consider closing Burlington Central High School (BCHS) in 2018. A downtown school that dates back to 1922, BCHS has a lot of history as the first high school in Burlington. But the board says declining student numbers may force the school to close.
The current enrollment at BCHS is a total of 872 students in grades 7-12. However, the HDSB has only considered the number of high-school students attending BCHS (grades 9-12) and not the number of grade 7/8 and ESL students at the school.
Parents, local politicians, and past graduates are protesting the high school’s impending closure by sharing memories of the school and how the school was more like a home. They also want to know why such a monumental part of the city’s history should be closed.
Courtney Osborne is a BCHS graduate who is actively involved with the petition to keep BCHS open for future students. She says students who are currently attending BCHS “will be bussed to Nelson or Aldershot depending on where they live. As for the grade seven and eights who are at Central or who are supposed to be attending there, the HDSB has no plans as of right now in regards to where they will be going or moved to.”
Osborne points out that BCHS is the only secondary school in the downtown Burlington area.
Multiple petitions have been set up to save Central on social media and through city meetings held by local politicians and parent groups to help spread awareness of the importance of the school in Burlington.
BCHS is not the only school in Burlington struggling with lower enrollment numbers. Lester B. Pearson, Robert Bateman and M. M. Robinson are other secondary schools that are at a higher risk of closing down.
“It is understood these schools have meaning and value for their communities,” said Halton Board Education Director Stuart Miller. “The Halton District School Board values and encourages community participation in this process. We are therefore requesting the formation of a Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) to participate in an advisory role, to be a conduit of information, and to provide meaningful input and feedback in the proposed solutions.”
BCHS is almost 100 years old and the those who have attended the school would like for it to stay open. No official plans have been put in place by the HDSB as to what will happen to any of the Burlington schools if they were to close. For now, parent groups, local politicians, and graduates are still pushing for the schools to remain open.