Students take pool fight to Queen’s Park

Tuesday, April 15, 2008  BRIAN GRAY, SUN MEDIA

Parents and students are being urged to make a splash.

A rally to save the pools in Toronto's public schools drew only a handful of concerned community members to Riverdale Collegiate last evening, but the real pressure is expected during a rally today at Queen's Park.

Community members affected by the pool closures are being asked to fill the public gallery at Queen's Park for question period at 2 p.m., when the NDP has promised to hammer the Liberal government over their refusal to step in with more cash to keep the pools in operation.

"I was pretty disappointed when I heard they were planning on closing the pool," said Grade 9 student David Banh, who is on Riverdale's junior swim team. "If it happens, I'm going to look back on this year as the good old days."

Students at Riverdale staged a walkout from classes last week to protest the decision to drain their hi-tech facility that is also used by community groups.

The Toronto District School Board is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a decision to layoff aquatic instructors in a bid to cut costs.

That move would lead to the closure of 23 pools at the end of this school year and another 16 in June 2009.

Cathy Dandy, trustee for Riverdale, said the board's hands are tied by a funding formula that does not recognize pools and is "profoundly underfunding" city schools.

She urged parents to pressure Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, Health Promotion Minister Margaret Best and Tourism Minister Peter Fonseca to come up with funding to keep them open.

"We all know it makes no sense to close a facility like Riverdale," Debbie Gordon, a parent, said. "There's lots of passing the buck going on."