School closures update

School closures update

  A Save our Schools Commentary

As a city with continued anticipated growth over this decade Toronto will need all its existing elementary and secondary schools by the end of the decade.

The school closings slowed in 2010.  School trustees at the public board openly stated that Accommodation Review Committee activity had been deliberately stalled until after the Oct. 6th provincial election.

In 2008 the school board trustees closed 3 high schools, West Toronto C.I., Timothy Eaton B.T.I.  and Bendale B.T.I.  West Toronto has been sold to the French Board but there’s no buyer yet for Timothy Eaton (Scarborough.)  Bendale is to be folded into a huge JK to grade 12 campus complex at David and Mary Thompson C.I. in Scarborough but construction has not yet begun.

Trustees voted to close 8 schools in 2009 and those school doors will close permanently in Sept. 2012.

The only downtown school under threat right in the fall of 2011 is Regent Park/Duke of York Public School in Ward 14 Toronto Centre Rosedale.  It’s being sacrificed as redundant since Nealson Mandela/Park is undergoing a deep rebuild.  The situation in Ward 14 is further complicated by the big Regent Park Revitalization project where the plans keep changing all the time, nothing is for sure and there’s talk about a school in the Portlands and then there isn’t.  In the adjacent West Don Lands a population of 40.000 is projected following the 2015 Pan Am Games.  The community’s need for an elementary school is clear.

In November observers can expect to see a whole new onslaught and possibly a dozen Accommodation Reviews will be announced.  To date the majority of trustees have gone along with the school closings.  They approved a capital plan last year which permits them to spend the proceeds of each sale on upgrades for the remaining consolidated neighbourhood schools.

The Province mandated school boards to close and sell schools and then sweetened the pot with some additional grant money for construction with each school sold.  Most of the trustees drank the Kool-Aid.  After a dozen years of deferring major building repairs just to balance the budget, they were desperate about their $2.8 billion maintenance backlog and could see no way out.

An inadequate provincial funding formula is at the root of the dilemma.

– with reports from Save Our Schools Toronto