Sherwood Secondary: Don’t make it political

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For more on this discussion, you can read my latest Hamilton Spectator OpEd Don’t write off Barton Secondary School. For a summary of the 10+ year history of this discussion, you can visit

It’s just a building. In fact, there are two capable structures to choose from where the decision facing HWDSB trustees is concerned. Rebuild Sherwood Secondary at a price tag of $15M, or update the former Barton school 2 linear km’s away which has sat vacant since October 2020, at a cost of $7M.

The main barrier muddying the waters of this decision is that the capacity at the Barton site would mean that if the projected enrollment over the next five years comes to fruition, it would need an addition or portables. Given the fact that there are 158 portables across 37 schools, it seems very unlikely that an addition would be approved or that it would be equitable to other schools lacking adequate space for generations including Westmount High School which has 8 portables. On the other hand, Sherwood has enough capacity to meet current enrollment trends but is spending $7M because of this capacity constraint justifiable when there is a backlog of $422M in total renewal needs including $246M in high and urgent needs across HWDSB’s 103 schools?

It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in this position 10 years after Barton was marked for closure in a move that blindsided the Barons community at the 11th hour and saved the school with the highest repair bill even then out of all east mountain high schools. With area MPP Monique Taylor bringing the petition to Save Sherwood to Queen’s park and her article in last week’s Hamilton News advocating for the same – it’s increasingly becoming political again

The way in which a story is written can misguidedly get people up in arms when the information provided doesn’t paint the entire picture. Ms. Taylor’s article starts off by stating that Sherwood is in the heart of the community it serves. Although our hearts are slightly off centre, Sherwood is actually more in the outstretched fingertips whereas Barton is more in the collarbone if we look at where each school sits within the Sherwood catchment boundary.

Next, MPP Taylor mentions that the community made a choice in 2012 to save Sherwood. The Barton and Hill Park communities would disagree.

Next, the article talks about students and teachers deserving to thrive in a school that meets their needs, but choosing to move students permanently to the Barton site would mean that sooner than later, Sherwood students and employees would be in a quality learning environment once and for all. Neither is at threat of finding themselves sans a school on the football field in toques watching bunnies and coyotes play.

French immersion is mentioned and by doing so it may seem to readers that that programming is at threat which it is not. It was promised that all programs – including FI, would move to the Barton site.

Lastly, a cry to save community schools is rightly made but one of two communities stands to lose a central hub. At the end of the day, a school to house the Sherwood traditions will remain in the east mountain and Barton is much cheaper, and has a lot of land for expansion and athletics including a neighbouring school and city park.

Choosing to move the students to the Barton site would equally be in the best interest of our Sherwood youth. In supporting one option, Monique Taylor is ignoring the voices of those that would also like a high school in their community. These too are the people she serves.

We can argue about building aesthetics, compare vacant workshops versus brightly lit active spaces, but we know that whatever location is chosen, the Sherwood Saints tradition will continue with a very active and feisty parent council to continue to push for quality spaces for our children’s education.

Let us be careful about choosing politics over principal this time around. I do not want to be writing about this issue in my retirement.

And that’s The Point.

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