rally for pools Thursday

media release

Toronto Thursday, April 10, 2008 – “Toronto communities should not have to choose between swimming pools or ESL teachers” says Stephen Seaborn of the Campaign for Public Education (CPE).

The coalition of community organizations, parents, teachers, education workers and students is alarmed at the “other priorities” argument put forward last week by the chair of Toronto District School Board, John Campbell.

Faced with the proposed closure of 23 of the TDSB’s 84 school pools this year and another 16 next year, parents and community groups are wondering who will make Toronto’s kids “drown proof”, what will happen to the swim team and which programs will address childhood obesity and inactivity.

“The health and safety of our children is a key concern in communities across our city”, states Seaborn. “Plus our school swimming pools are also regularly used by community groups and adults – the whole city benefits!”

19 of the city’s 22 wards have three or more school-based swimming pools built and operated through municipal taxes. Observers note that pool closures are being supported by trustees John Campbell and Bruce Davis, two school trustees from Etobicoke wards where there are presently no school pools. The TDSB Planning and Priorities Committee will vote on a recommendation Thursday evening.

“In fact we should be adding new pools in at least all secondary schools so that neighborhoods in every part of the city have a school-based pool, thereby further developing our schools as community hubs”, notes CPE’s Seaborn.

“The Provincial government needs to accept some responsibility. These are now their schools and the communities wisely chose to place pools in them years ago when they were built”, he concludes.

CPE is calling on the city, school board and all relevant provincial ministries to get together on how to maintain funding for school pools and for the TDSB, meanwhile, to hold off on all closures.

Meet students, parents, community reps and aquatic staffers: Thursday, April 10, 2008  6 pm Prior to the 6:30 Planning & Priorities Meeting Toronto District School Board, 5050 Yonge Street

Press contact: Nancy Campbell, Save our School Pools: 416-347-5116