No end to deep freeze @TDSB
The Provincial Government’s decision to freeze capital funding for TDSB put the Board in an difficult position. Several schools in the city are severely overcrowded and had begun construction projects to relieve the congestion. With funding frozen, these projects were halted and the communities involved are left with no option but to bus their children to other schools. The next phase of Full Day Kindergarten, scheduled for September 2013, only adds to this pressure.
At its meeting in November 2012, the TDSB Trustees voted against a proposal to sever school yards to pay for the capital funding. The plan that was presented at that time was based on a rushed and formulaic process, and it didn’t offer proper community input. I was particularly concerned that there were very few limits on what land could be severed and sold.
However, it is important that the TDSB have a policy on land severances, so that decisions are transparent, democratic and consistent. The simple fact is, the Board is required to provide funding to accommodate the needs of students, whether or not the Provincial Government provides adequate funding. So, in December 2012, the Trustees discussed a revised plan, which addressed many of the concerns that had been raised by the communities affected.
The new policy includes strong provisions for meaningful community consultations, retaining adequate recreational and green space, and preserving sufficient space for future enrolment. The policy also places limits on the number of severances that can occur in each ward, and includes reference to non-school Board properties.
During these discussions, I raised the issue of other options for capital funding, which did not involve selling off school lands. In particular, I argued that the Board should pursue leasing as an alternative to sales. This is an option that I will continue to promote – it is a realistic way to achieve funding, while retaining public land that is important for future needs as communities change and the public school system develops.
The complete policy is available at http://trusteekaplan.ca/Land_Severance.html.