School board blowback: school serving immigrants axed

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Media advisory GOODERHAM & WORTS NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION  101 – 39 Parliament Street,  Toronto M5A 4R1

School board blowback over closure of school serving immigrant community

 

Toronto June 27 2011 –  The proposed closure of a school in the Regent Park community has nearby ratepayers wondering why they’ve been shut out of school board consultations.

 

A meeting, called for tonight, Monday, June 27th has been in dispute since it was quietly announced on the board’s website and to an email list late last week.

 

Inadequate community notification is at the core of the dispute.  “We simply asked school board officials for a more comprehensive notification of community parents and residents”, said area resident and neighbourhood association president, Lester Brown.

 

Community consultations are organized by the Toronto District School Board under a provincially regulated process required prior to school boards shutting down schools and selling public land.   By late Friday TDSB officials insisted that adequate public notice had been given, and the Monday meeting would proceed.

 

Said Toronto Centre school Trustee, Sheila Ward,  “Notices* were distributed to residents within 500 metres of the meeting.”

 

However residents living across the street from the Regent Park school and other parts of the school’s catchment area claim not to have been notified.

 

In a report on CKLN.fm last week the news of inadequate notification of area stakeholders was characterized as “a disturbing breach of public trust”.  The media report and community uproar comes on the heels of persistent charges that the TDSB has failed to inform members of the public of the possible closure and sale of a school in Regent Park.

 

The TDSB is currently reviewing nine elementary schools as part of a “pupil accommodation review”** taking place within an area bounded by Bloor St, the Toronto harbour, the Don River and Sherbourne Street.  The various neighbourhoods that would be impacted by a reduction in the number of schools include the most densely populated urban areas in Canada.

 

Said one community member from Regent Park, who asked that her name be withheld,  “I am the only person involved from my community…immigrants like me in Regent Park just won’t come to meetings outside their immediate neighbourhood”.

 

The public meeting:

7-8pm Winchester School, 15 Prospect Street  (1 block W of Parliament, 2 blocks S of Wellesley)

 

Media Contacts:

Lester Brown, President, Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association, 39 Parliament Street  +1647 403 4052

Joel Dick, area resident and community broadcaster  +1416 986 6136

*http://www.tdsb.on.ca/wwwdocuments/schools/area_review_committee/docs/AdditionalPublicMtgNoticeJune27.11mtg.pdf

** http://www.tdsb.on.ca/_site/ViewItem.asp?siteid=10118&menuid=32817&pageid=27935