playgrounds safe

playgrounds safe

TORONTO SCHOOL BOARD WILL NOT SELL

see also: Toronto School Board right not to sell playgrounds: Salutin.

The Toronto District School Board has voted down a proposal to raise money for capital projects by selling land at some Toronto schools to developers.

The Board voted 15 to 7 against a plan that could have seen playgounds and athletic fields sold off to raise $100-million. The board needs the money to pay back the province after it ran up a $50-million capital deficit through cost over-runs on several projects. The province froze the TDSB’s capital budget until it could balance its books.

Meanwhile, seven school additions and other projects are on hold.  Trustees will go back to the drawing board now and try to come up with another way to make up the capital deficit. But they haven’t ruled out the idea of selling property in the future.

Kristin Rushowy   Education Reporter  Toronto Star   Monday November 19, 2012

Toronto’s public board wants to sever land off 127 school playgrounds to sell to developers — in some cases, leaving the yards less than half their original size.

In a confidential shortlist obtained by the Star, board staff have identified 367 acres, most of it in North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke, to sell off in a bid to raise at least $100 million to pay for building renovations and additions.

Trustees will be discussing and voting on the controversial list — and a larger capital plan — at a private meeting Monday night.

“I think the public is going to be shocked,” said Etobicoke Centre Trustee Chris Glover when contacted by the Star. He would not discuss the specifics of the report, but said he believed more than half of the schools in his ward would be affected.

“These are their school playgrounds, and they are just so important for the community. This is where the community and the children in the community go and play.”

He’s not opposed to selling off some green space, where it makes sense, but says there must be public consultations before any such move. And he believes that, in general, parents at his schools will oppose it.

“It’s a non-starter,” he added. “My community will not want to sell that kind of green space.”

Paris Meilleur, spokesperson for Education Minister Laurel Broten, said the ministry has been discussing the Toronto board’s capital plan with staff, noting “the ministry’s review of capital plans is also ongoing.”

Glover said the ministry had “vetted” the board’s capital plan before it went to trustees. However, Meilleur said “the ministry has not formally commented in any way about the appropriateness of the redeveloped TDSB capital plans, but we will continue to work with the board to find a pathway forward.”

Initially, it was thought only the largest school sites would be on the hit list, such as Woburn Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, with 16.43 acres and 6.43 recommended to be sold off.

However, some of those under consideration are much smaller, such as Rene Gordon Health and Wellness Academy, a fitness-focused school in North York, which has 5.66 acres, with 2.67 acres to be severed.

Several schools could take huge hits, such as North York’s Rippleton Public School, with 8.9 acres and 6.11 considered sellable, or O’Connor Public School in East York, with 4.97 acres and 2.03 recommended to go.

Scarborough’s Corvette Junior Public School sits on 8.28 acres, with 5.01 possibly to be severed, leaving it with just over three acres — well under half its original size.

Hollycrest Middle School in Etobicoke may take the biggest hit, with 12.47 of its 16.75 acres possibly set to go.

Glover said board staff were forced to come up with a new capital plan after the Ministry of Education put a freeze on all building projects.

The freeze was in response to a run-up of $11 million in extra costs to refurbish Nelson Mandela Park Public School in downtown Toronto. Education Minister Broten has threatened to send in a supervisor if the Toronto District School Board doesn’t get control over the cost overruns.

But Glover said an external investigation showed the problems that arose at Mandela were no one’s fault, “because in trying to restore a heritage school that we weren’t allowed to tear down, there were cost overruns — as there are any time to you try to restore something old like that.”

He accused the ministry of forcing the board to rush this new plan through in order to end the freeze.

“It’s: ‘Pass this capital plan now, or you’re not allowed to build the schools or additions you need.’ It’s absolutely unconscionable. We can’t possibly sell off that kind of space without at least talking with our communities.”

The board, however, has come under considerable fire for huge bills paid for work done in schools — such as $143 to fasten a pencil sharpener to a shelf, and $3,000 to install a basic electrical outlet — uncovered in a Toronto Star investigation. Much of that work was done by skilled trades council members. Some have suggested that wasteful spending be reined in before the board considers selling off public land.

Last June, trustees voted in favour of looking at potential sites to be sold to developers. Unofficially, the goal was 100 parcels of land for $100 million. At the time, board vice-chair Shaun Chen — who represents Scarborough-Rouge River — was willing to see what the external planning company could find, but doubted the board had anywhere near 100 sites where that would be feasible.

The education ministry does not set a minimum size for schoolyards.

Under provincial rules, money from land sales can only fund upgrades, additions and renovations, but not pay for school staffing or programming.

One source said the plan to sell off the playgrounds could be phased in over a few years.

Severing land is much faster than closing schools — something the board has generally been reluctant to do, especially now that enrolment has started to rise — because shutting down schools follows a process that can take up to two years of consultations and decisions.

Severing off land can be done, with the community’s approval. At North Toronto Collegiate Institute, it brought in enough money to help fund the redevelopment of the aging high school. The school now shares space with two condo towers, after trading land for cash to fund its $52 million revamp in 2010.

SEVERING LAND – The leaked list

“Some top schools with existing acreage and the amount that could be severed:

• Hollycrest MS: 16.75/12.47

• Norman Ingram PS: 9.56/6.67

• Rippleton PS: 8.9/6.11

• Pelmo Park PS: 10:01/6.45

• Maryvale PS: 12.01/7.59

• Amesbury MS: 10:48/6.48

• Warden Avenue PS: 8.03/4.96

• Ranchdale PS: 8.1/4.99

• Denlow PS: 7.54/9.86

• Greenland PS: 7.54/4.58

• Sir Adam Beck JS: 9.86/5.97

• Hillmount PS: 7.17/4.34

• Corvette Jr PS: 8.28/5.01

 Kristin Rushowy   Education Reporter  Toronto Star   Monday Nov ember 19, 2012
School Name/Existing School Acreage/Maximum Acreage/Severable Proportion
Agincourt CI        14.92               4.92            33%
Albert Campbell CI  23.42              13.42            57%
Albion Heights JMS   6.13               2.35            38%
Amesbury MS         12.01               7.59            63%
Arbor Glen PS        6                  2.84            47%
Armour Heights PS 7.17 4.31 60%
Baycrest PS 5.39 2.44 45%
Bayview MS 6.3 2.32 37%
Beaumonde Heights JMS 6.62 2.05 31%
Bennington Heights ES 6.37 3.28 51%
Beverley Heights MS 7.91 3.56 45%
Birch Cliff PS 7.19 3.38 47%
Blaydon PS 5.29 2.52 48%
Bliss Carman Sr PS 8.06 4.26 53%
Bloordale MS  8.1 4.08 50%
Bloorlea MS 9.49 5.55 58%
Bridlewood Jr PS 5.63 2.84 50%
Brookhaven PS 7.66 4.39 57%
Brookview MS 9.96 5.51 55%
Burnhamthorpe CI / Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre 19.37 9.37 48%
C D Farquharson Jr PS 7.78 4.62 59%
C W Jefferys CI 15 5 33%
Cassandra PS 6.33 3.34 53%
Centennial Road Jr PS 6 2.94 49%
Charles H Best MS 8.75 4.93 56%
Cherokee PS 6 2.98 50%
Claireville Js 6 2.56 43%
Cliffwood PS 7.86 4.72 60%
Corvette Jr PS 8.28 5.01 61%
Danforth Gardens PS 5.73 2.06 36%
Denlow PS 8.1 4.99 62%
Don Mills MS  7.78 3.59 46%
Don Valley JHS 10.01 5.99 60%
Dorset Park PS 8.01 4.51 56%
Dr Marion Hilliard Sr PS 7.02 2.86 41%
Dublin Heights E & MS 9.09 4.46 49%
Eastview PS  6.5 2.86 44%
Eatonville JS 6 2.74 46%
Ella MS 9.71 5.75 59%
Ellesmere-Statton PS 8.75 2.7 31%
Elmbank JMA 9.59 3.24 34%
Fairglen Jr PS 6.23 3.27 52%
Fairmount PS 7.57 3.58 47%
Firgrove PS 8.01 4.72 59%
Fisherville Sr PS / Year Round Alt School 10.01 5.62 56%
Forest Manor PS 8.01 3.66 46%
Gateway PS 9.44 3.5 37%
General Brock PS 8.01 4.41 55%
Glen Park PS 8.03 4.64 58%
Greenholme JMS 11.07 6.62 60%
Greenland PS 7.54 4.58 61%
Highland JHS 8.06 3.94 49%
Hillmount PS  7.17 4.34 61%
Hollycrest MS 16.75 12.47 74%
Hollywood PS 6.7 3.84 57%
Humber Summit MS 7.31 2.64 36%
Humber Valley Village JMS 9.46 5.03 53%
Iroquois Jr PS 6 3.13 52%
J G Workman PS 5.91 2.32 39%
John A Leslie PS 7.09 3.46 49%
John Polanyi CI / Bathurst Heights Learning Centre 12.11 2.11 17%
Joseph Howe Sr PS 8.01 4.17 52%
Lamberton PS 6.03 3.08 51%
Lester B Pearson CI 14.5 4.5 31%
Lillian PS 7.17 4.27 60%
Lynnwood Heights Jr PS 4.99 2.24 45%
Maple Leaf PS 6.15 2.47 40%
Maplewood HS 12.6 2.6 21%
Maryvale PS 10.01 6.45 64%
Mason Road Jr PS 5.86 2.67 46%
Meadowvale PS 7.88 4.12 52%
Mill Valley JS 6.03 3.08 51%
Muirhead PS 6 2.98 50%
Newtonbrook SS 13.71 3.71 27%
Norman Cook Jr PS 6.1 3.22 53%
Norman Ingram PS 9.56 6.67 70%
North Bendale Jr PS 6.3 3.49 55%
North Bridlewood Jr PS  6 3.03 51%
Oakdale Park MS 6.99 2.66 38%
O’Connor PS 4.97 2.03 41%
Park Lane PS 5.71 2.1 37%
Parc Lawn JMS 6.4 2.19 34%
Pelmo Park PS 8.6 5.7 66%
Pierre Laporte MS 8.82 5.08 58%
Pleasant View JHS 8.01 3.84 48%
Princess Margaret JS 6.45 3.3 51%
Ranchdale PS 8.03 4.96 62%
Rene Gordon Elementary Health and Wellness Academy 5.66 2.67 47%
Rippleton PS 8.9 6.11 69%
Rosethorn JS 6.33 3.24 51%
Roywood PS 5.58 2.44 44%
Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy 12.33 2.33 19%
SCAS / SEYRAC / SCS - SE 13.24 3.24 24%
Seneca Hill PS 6 3.05 51%
Silverthorn CI 15.3 5.3 35%
Sir Adam Beck JS 9.86 5.97 61%
Sir Alexander Mackenzie Sr PS 9.41 5.64 60%
Sir Oliver Mowat CI 14.8 4.8 32%
Sloane PS 5.04 2.24 44%
Smithfield MS 10.13 2.62 26%
St George’s JS 6.13 3.09 50%
St Margaret’s PS 7.41 3.72 50%
Stanley PS 6.18 2.79 45%
Steelesview PS 6 3.06 51%
Stephen Leacock CI 14.97 4.97 33%
Summit Heights PS 6.89 3.76 55%
The Elms JMS / Boys’ Leadership Academy 12.01 6.86 57%
Topcliff PS 5.68 2.54 45%
Tumpane PS 6.35 3.39 53%
Vradenburg Jr PS 5.02 2.03 40%
Warden Avenue PS 10.48 6.48 62%
Wedgewood JS 7.09 3.79 53%
Wellesworth JS 6.8 3.6 53%
West Glen JS 6.47 3.34 52%
West Number CI 17.22 7.22 42%
Westway JS 6.18 3.13 51%
William G Davis Jr PS 5.46 2.17 40%
William Lyon Mackenzie CI 14.28 4.28 30%
William Tredway Jr PS  6.08 3.01 50%
Willow Park Jr PS 6.1 2.83 46%
Windfields JHS  10.01 5.88 59%
Woburn CI 16.43 6.43 39%
Woburn Jr PS  8.01 4.69 59%
Woodbine JHS/North East Year-Round Alternative Centre 8.01 3.57 45%
York Mills CI 16.75 6.75 40%
Yorkwoods PS 5.93 2.62 44%
Zion Heights JHS  10.01 5.82 58%