Several TDSB schools could be closed due to declining enrollment
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 29, 2015 12:11PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:59PM EST
Several TDSB schools could be on the chopping block due to declining enrollment.
School board trustees have been given a list of underutilize schools that confirms 84 of the 473 TDSB elementary schools are operating at 65 per cent capacity or less and 46 of 116 high schools are also not achieving enrollment above 65 per cent.
The TDSB has recently been feeling the pressure from the province to close schools that don’t have adequate enrollment numbers and sell off the property.
A recent external review of the TDSB authored by education consultant Margaret Wilson found that the board has ignored staff recommendations to sell under-used buildings to Toronto’s Catholic board.
The review states that the TDSB, instead, decided to keep open 79 schools that are operating at less than 50 per cent capacity.
The high cost of maintaining those schools, according to Wilson, is creating a “drain on the rest of the system.”
Ontario's education minister Liz Sandals said that money put into operating empty schools should be put into programs for students instead.
“If you are maintaining space for 900 students or 1,000 students and you’ve only got 67 kids in it, you are spending an awful lot of money on maintaining that space," Sandals told CP24 Thursday.
“Instead of spending money on programs for the kids, you actually end up spending money on a lot of space."
Those critical of the closures say the schools should be kept open to accommodate future growth.
Sandals called this assertion a "myth."
"One of the things you have to remember is when you are a board with a lot of old schools and old neighbourhoods, they were built for the days when parents had four or five kids. The birth rate is now to 1.1 children," she said.
“We plan the education system based on the number of students not on the number of students people would like to have.”
However school board trustee Marit Stiles argues that point and says closing schools could actually be a bad move down the road.
“It can be very shortsighted to look at a school now and not look down the road in 10 years and say what is our high school need going to be at that time," the Ward 9 trustee told CP24 Thursday.
Stiles also said the list fails to take into account what some of the empty space is being used for.
"The minister asked us for utilization rates based on a definition of capacity that the ministry came up with. It doesn’t include things like child care centres, sometimes you have adult ESL programs," she said.
Poll shows Torontonians don't think the TDSB does a good job of running city schools:
When it comes to public perception of the Toronto District School Board, a new poll suggests Torontonians think there is plenty of room for improvement.
The Forum Research poll, which randomly sampled 843 Toronto voters, suggests that 61 per cent don't think the TDSB does a good job of running city schools. Only 19 per cent said they thought the TDSB was doing a good job and 20 per cent said they had no opinion on the matter.
Close to half of those surveyed (45 per cent) say they believe trustees are not necessary to administer Toronto schools and 31 per cent say they are.
"The recent coverage of the TDSB’s woes, and that of its Education Director, have clearly sensitized voters to an issue they have long ignored, the background governance of Toronto’s public schools," Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff said in a written statement issued along with the poll.