school population rise but schools close
At a final public meeting in Ward 14 the TDSB’s staff response to the Pupil Accommodation Review Committee’s recommendations was made known. Regent Park/Duke of York Jr. P.S. is to be closed and made surplus. It will go to a Planning and Priorities Committee meeting on Nov. 9th. Then on to the Board for final approval on Nov. 16th.
The school sits on a very valuable 3.5 acre piece of land on the corner of Parliament and Shuter. As it ranks as #10 on the 2001 Learning Opportunties Index, it is also located in one of the most needy, low income communities in Toronto. The pattern for school closings in Toronto has been to target schools in low income, high needs neighbourhoods. Gone will be its Parenting and Literacy Centre. Its day care centre will merge with Lord Dufferin’s. The breakfast and snack programs, adult ESL LINC classes, International Languages classes and month long free summer day camp for kids with reading problems may or may not find a new home in the nearby Nelson Mandela P.S.
The question is will Nelson Mandela P.S. be able to absorb the children from Regent Park- Duke of York and the influx of children from the coming population increase once the massive new housing developments are completed in the Regent Park Revitalization project. Unlikely. Even though Nelson Mandela is undergoing a “deep retrofit,” a 21.7 million dollar renovation, scheduled to reopen in Sept. 2012, it can’t possibly handle the demand that will appear in the next 5 to 10 years. Then the community will likely feel the loss of its second elementary school site. “Once the [school] property is sold, its gone for good,” said Daryl Sage, director of Stategy and Planning for the TDSB, at the final public A.R.C. meeting for the 9 ward 14 schools (-Regent Park and Nelson Mandela are among them.) Regent Park is the most densely populated urban area in all of Canada.
The TDSB did not reveal its long term enrolment projections until trustees recently demanded to see them. The graphs showed that the decade for declining enrolment has ended and that the numbers of children in Toronto schools will be restored to their 2002 levels by the end of this decade. In two decades, they’ll be bursting at the seams.
Interestingly, it was reported in The Toronto Star today that Ontario elementary schools already find themselves “struggling to accommodate full-day kindergarten classes” [and] “could push Grades 7 and 8 students into local high schools.” When a parent stated that there was a need in the area was a new secondary school, Daryl Sage stated that the population curve for elementary schools is on the rise but the secondary schools “are [still] going to feel the decline over the next ten years” and no, there would be no new high school.
– Save Our Schools Toronto