School board plans to boost capacity at Thorncliffe kindergarten

Toronto’s District School Board (TDSB) is looking to accommodate the overflow of extra students by creating an all-kindergarten school.

Thorncliffe Park Elementary School, located at 80 Thorncliffe Park Dr. near Don Mills Road and the Don Valley Parkway is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

The Toronto Board of Education received $16 million from the Ontario government to provide space for 700 more students at Thorncliffe Park. Currently the school is at capacity with over 1,800 students, with 32 kindergarten classes.

City councillor John Parker, Ward 26, Don Valley West, said because the current size of Thorncliffe Park is so enormous, dividing the school and creating a kindergarten sector would be the most convenient.

“A school is being built that will accommodate 700 students,” he said. “There are enough kids in JK and SK to fill a school with them alone.”

Gerri Gershon, a trustee at TDSB said the exact location of the new school is still to be determined.

“We are trying to decide the best program configuration for the new school and where it will be placed,” she said.

Parker said the most desirable location for the new school is the same campus as the existing school.

“Right now one end of the schoolyard is occupied by portables,” he said. “If we remove the portables, there will probably be enough room to put up a building of the size that we are talking about.”

Gershon said the project is set to be completed by January 2012. “We have been meeting with an architect who has been chosen,” she said. “We are working with members of the community, members of the Thorncliffe Park staff, agencies that work around the schools and the city councillor.”

According to Parker, there is enthusiasm around the concept from parents and people in the community. Implementing a daycare component within the kindergarten school is also a possibility. He said the current daycare at Thorncliffe Park doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of the population.

“This is an exciting opportunity to integrate the city’s daycare facilities with the school board kindergarten program,” he said. “This is something that has never been done before but makes a lot of sense”