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.
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.
This fall, the Ministry of Education has been seeking input from key stakeholders to help determine how it will fund public education for the 2015-16 school year.
Fix Our Schools made this submission.
The Ministry of Education’s mandate letter for the next four years includes developing a community hubs policy – a noble concept that would see empty public schools used creatively to benefit a community in alternate ways.
Mandate Letter from Premier Kathleen Wynne to Minister of Education Liz Sandals
However, in pursuit of short-term efficiencies, schools in rural areas of Ontario and urban centres are being forced to close. 50 mayors across Ontario have banded together to lobby the Provincial government to reconsider school closures in favour of transforming school buildings into true community hubs.
Ontario Mayors Fight to Keep Schools Open
A transformation of this kind will require both patience and co-operation between the Provincial Government, School Boards, and Municipalities. Not an easy task but one that seems worth pursuing.
As a starting point to this blog, we want to bring you up to speed on what Fix Our Schools has been doing. So far, a lot of our campaign has been informed by our experience with local schools here in Ward 7 (near High Park). We hope that this will change as we connect with other TDSB parents from across the city!
1) We’ve been writing letters to both the TDSB and the Ministry of Education. Here are the latest letters sent to each:
Letter_to the Ministry of Education
Letter to the TDSB
2) We’ve contacted media, that has resulted in the following media exposure:
TDSB wants development funding for overcapacity schools and $3.5 Billion in outstanding repairs
Fix Our Schools calls upon mayoral candidates to work with TDSB
Fix Our Schools echo TDSB Trustees’ plea to Province to reconsider how development money is accessed and used by school boards
3) We’ve worked hard to get education issues on the agenda during the municipal election by hosting a local Ward 7 Trustee debate; answering media questions about the Trustee races across the city; and sending the following letters to Mayoral candidates and City Councillor candidates:
Letter to Mayoral Candidates
Letter to City Councillor Candidates