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Sparse crowd at BDSS’s ARC

By Mike Williscraft

Was it a conflict with a Christmas shopping date?

Was something good on TV?

Has the community simply resigned itself to the fact Beamsville District Secondary School’s fate is sealed after school board staff recommended it be closed and merged into a Niagara West super school?

Those were some of the questions the handful of people at last Thursday’s Accomodation Review Committee (ARC) were asking each other after just over 40 people turned out to hear the District School Board of Niagara’s committee review stats and analysis which lead staff to make such a recommendation.

It was the second of three such ARC meetings – South Lincoln hosted its meeting in November and Grimsby Secondary is set to host its meeting Jan. 26.

While SLHS had well over 200 in attendance, BDSS had a crowd that filled about 20 per cent of the chairs set out in the auditorium.
Just four people put their names down to speak and two of them mainly addressed the heritage of the building asking that the facade be preserved in the result of closure and possible demolition.

In terms of information, the details provided were much the same as presented at SLHS. The meeting started at 6 p.m. with a tour for the committee again, followed by committee conversation but it went much longer with public input not getting started until nearly 8:30 p.m.

Declining enrollment which leads to staffing and programming challenges – both in classes and extra-curricular activities were the order of the day.
One committee member, Rudy Kerec, said, “we have something to sell. Are we selling it? Are we telling all the good things we’re doing?’

Meeting facilitator Cam Hathaway said showcasing achievement to the community and local media externally as well as highlighting successes internally through banners, plaques and memorabilia on walls are major ways to communicate these things.

“I assume these things are being done,” Hathaway said.

In public comment, Lincoln Heritage Committee chair Carla Mackie asked for preservation of the 1917 and 1924 portions of the building.
Vic Dirksen noted the state of disrepair the school board has allowed at all three high schools was an “unfathomable major mismanagement of taxpayers’ assets”.

Two parents spoke about transit issues relating to length of travel times.

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