Fighting to Keep B. Davison School Vocational School Open
School board administrators were in the hot seat over the future of vocational programs offered at B. Davison High School.
At Tuesday night’s special meeting of the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), administrators repeatedly asked staff to explain dwindling enrollment and the proposed “reorientation” of the secondary school which offers a job-oriented training in fields such as welding, hospitality, horticulture and cosmetology. .
Director of Education Mark Fisher suggested that a public process to consider reorienting the school would help address the steady decline in enrolment, adding that similar courses are offered in some traditional high schools which better prepare students. college or trade school students.
“There’s no conspiracy here,” Fisher told the school board and the gallery of more than 40 concerned parents, educators and alumni. “What we’re trying to do here is what’s best for our children and our communities – period.”
Only five students expressed interest in attending B. Davison in the previous two years—an insufficient number to start a new ninth-grade class.
The school’s current students in grades 11 and 12 will graduate in 2023 and 2024.
Trustees pressed the administration to explain whether the drop in enrollment was the result of student choice or a lack of awareness of the professional program offered at B. Davison.
In 2013, the TVDSB adopted requests to the administration:
- That every effort be made to expand and improve program offerings at B. Davison
- That a regular review of the programs offered at B. Davison and Technology Emphasis High Schools be undertaken to ensure that the needs of students and future employment opportunities in the community are considered.
- That it be required that detailed written information about Emphasis Secondary Schools and B. Davison technology and any other program offerings, depending on the region, be sent to parents/guardians of 7th and 8th grade students in here November each year .
“We were committed to providing seventh and eighth graders with written information about Davison as a program (grade 9 option),” said councilor Sherri Moore.
TVDSB Director of Education Mark Fisher at the board meeting on July 12, 2022. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)Fisher said the motion was passed before he was hired by the school board, and over the past few years, “We haven’t campaigned to encourage kids to take part in this program, but we do have done nothing to discourage them.”
Fisher’s responses often stirred the school’s supporters who filled the public gallery.
Judith Callahan of the group ‘Keep Davison Secondary School Open’ is concerned about the success of students who may be required to attend traditional high schools.
“They get lost in a regular high school, they get lost and fall through the cracks,” she told CTV News.
The school is named after Janine Davison’s father, Basil, a lifelong educator.
“They can be successful, but they just don’t learn in a college setting, they sort of sit at a desk,” Davison explained.
Former student Matthew Burns said the small class sizes and personalized teaching helped him succeed: “It was like a big family there. That’s what I love about it.
After more than three hours, TVDSB administrators assigned administrative duties in the form of three reports with tight deadlines.
In September, the administration will report on its adherence to the 2013 motion supporting professional training.
In October, a report will offer “creative solutions” to support current B. Davison students given low enrollment.
In January 2023, a report will quantify student success in locally developed and workplace programs at B. Davison High School and other TVDSB locations.
After repeatedly criticizing TVDSB’s governance, Deputy Mayor of Thames Center Kelly Elliott said she was pleased that the trustees were keeping the administration’s feet on fire.
“The board really held them accountable. If that changes anything, I don’t know, because now we’re pushing those reports to January 2023,” Elliot said.