Selling under-utilized schools to generate funding is a long, complicated process

A year ago, the TDSB declared Bloor Collegiate Institute and Kent Senior Public School, both located on three hectares of land at the corner of Bloor and Dufferin, to be surplus. The Toronto Catholic District School Board made an offer last April, 2014 to buy these two TDSB properties. However, as of April 2015, Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government had not yet instructed the TDSB whether to accept or reject the Catholic school board’s offer. Odd that when the Province is pressuring the TDSB to sell under-utilized properties to generate funding, the Province’s response wouldn’t be more timely?

Meanwhile, in March 2015, Kathleen Wynne launched a Community Hubs Advisory Group, led by Karen Pitre. By April 2015, in the absence of direction from Province, the TDSB placed a hold on plans to sell the two schools and is, instead, going to investigate using these schools to create a community hub. The hope is that partners come with funding and that this scenario can be used as a model for the the Province, City and school boards to develop additional community hubs. While this decision to pursue using these schools as community hubs seems to align with Kathleen Wynne’s stated mandate to create community hubs, there appears to be no firm statement of support for this decision from the Minister of Education, with spokesperson Nilani Logeswaran saying only that, “the ministry is aware of the conversation the board has started and is awaiting the outcome“. And, even as the TDSB pursues a solution that aligns with Kathleen Wynne’s mandate of community hubs – you can bet that no exception in the utilization rate calculations has been extended to the TDSB for these properties and so, Bloor Collegiate Institute and Kent Senior Public School continue to count against the TDSB as “empty space”.

All this to say that the Province’s suggested solution that the TDSB must sell under-utilized schools to generate money to repair schools is fairly complicated and takes a long time! Meanwhile, a $3.3-billion repair backlog is getting larger with each day that passes.