Monthly Archives: January 2015

The complex reality of some “empty” TDSB schools

Here’s the complex reality of some TDSB schools cited as “empty” by the Province:

  • Lucy McCormick, at 39%, is one of the few accessible schools in the west end, serving children with developmental disabilities
  • Parkdale P.S., at 56%, was nearly full two years ago, utilization rates fluctuating wildly due to Federal immigration policies.
  • Burnhamthorpe Collegiate, at 35%, educates 1,000 adult learners every day, yet this important use as a community hub does not “count” in the 35%
  • King George P.S., at 89%, operated at 59% in 2009 but Provincial policies impacted attendance and this school is now projected to be at 134% by 2019

Kathleen Wynne’s government must stop citing simple numbers that do not reflect the complex reality they represent. Instead, please start working with the TDSB to address the massive challenges facing Canada’s largest school board.

Thinking outside the box to find funding for school repairs

At a recent Education Town Hall held by MPP Cheri Di Novo, Fix Our Schools spoke about Education Development Charges (EDCs). EDCs could be an important avenue for additional funding to address the poor state of schools in the TDSB. An audience member wondered why the Province hadn’t considered issuing bonds to raise the money to address the urgent repairs and maintenance across TDSB schools. Good question.

Our Provincial government must first acknowledge the importance of addressing the outstanding repairs and maintenance across aging Toronto public schools. If there was a political will, then certainly there are ways to find the money.

Conduct a quick web search using the words: “school boards”, “bonds” and “repairs” and you will see that many school boards south of the border have thought outside the box to raise the money required to ensure their children attended safe, well-maintained schools. If an issue is deemed important – the money will be found. Surely, the deplorable state of TDSB schools ought to be deemed an important issue?

Dear Premier Wynne & Minister Sandals – accountability please!

In response to Margaret Wilson’s report and Minister Sandals’ subsequent directions to the TDSB, Fix Our Schools wrote to the Province and encourages parents to also write Premier Wynne & Minister Sandals

Fix Our Schools is requesting:

1. long-term, constructive help to the TDSB with real dialogue focused on real change

2. another external audit of the TDSB focused on the students and teachers to unearth all the ways that classrooms are being negatively impacted

3. emergency funding to fix roofs and address urgent repairs at TDSB schools

You can easily make the same requests by clicking the link above and adding your name, mailing address and TDSB school info to the bottom of the letter and cc:ing your MPP, who is your local voice to the Provincial government and your Trustee, who is your local voice to the TDSB.

The letters that many of you sent to the Provincial government this fall are being heard. Minister Liz Sandals has spoken publicly about our requests for money to fix roofs. These requests were also mentioned by Matt Galloway on Monday’s edition of CBC Metro Morning. There is power in parent advocacy so please take the time to write!

Students have been impacted for years!

Some classrooms in the TDSB registered 15 degrees celsius last week (to give you context, Toronto by-laws demand a minimum of 21 degrees celsius for tenants!). The state of many TDSB schools is appalling: cold classrooms; leaking roofs; washrooms with no doors or working locks; and no soap in washrooms are all pretty standard fare across TDSB schools. However, Minister of Education Liz Sandals claims that the dysfunction of the TDSB has not yet impacted students. From Fix Our Schools’ perspective, it has been impacting students and their teachers for years! The $3.5 Billion of outstanding repairs and maintenance that the TDSB has been allowed to accumulate under the watchful eye of this Provincial government impacts the safety, success and well-being of our children every single day.

Fix Our Schools applauds Margaret Wilson’s work and was pleased to see the Province take strong action in directing the TDSB to implement all of Ms. Wilson’s recommendations in short order. We are optimistic that Margaret Wilson’s report and Minister Sandals’ directions are the first step towards the Province providing meaningful, long-term intervention to ensure the safety, success and well-being of our children. Ms. Wilson’s report states that the culture of fear referred to in the 2103 Ernst and Young Audit is even more pervasive now, demonstrating that short-term interventions by the Province have done nothing to improve the situation at the TDSB.

The fact that Minister Sandals does not see how students have already been impacted is extremely worrisome and may indicate that Margaret Wilson’s mandate was too narrow. Ms. Wilson’s report provides great insight into the top-down view of the TDSB but does not include a view of the situation from the ground-up – from a student’s perspective.