In Hamilton we keep hearing about school boards raising money by selling off surplus school properties. In the case of the now demolished Sanford Avenue School it is something of a moot point in that the property is being retained by the Board. In the case of Delta Collegiate, however, the school won’t close until 2015. But In the case of both schools, an argument can be made that the buildings should revert to the municipality without any transfer of funds because the citizens of Hamilton have already paid for them once. It is too late to save Sanford Avenue school but in the case of historic Delta it will be easier to save the property from demolition if it is not burdened with a multi-million dollar price tag that is essentially the transfer of funds from one taxpayer-supported body to another.

Delta Collegiate was opened in 1925, when the province was only contributing about 12 per cent of the cost of education. That means the bulk of the money for historic buildings like Delta came out of the pockets of depression-era Hamilton taxpayers. To now saddle a later generation of Hamilton Taxpayers with a second payment seems crazy and who knows, might not survive a court challenge. If the province wants to raise money on schools that it has funded in the years since Mike Harris took over responsibility for school funding, good luck. But Hamiltonians or, for that matter, taxpayers in any community with historical school buildings should not have to buy back what their parents and grandparents already paid for.

John Best has had a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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