Bendale-Thomson consolidation stalls

Students at Bendale Business and Technical Institute and David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute will have to wait even longer before the much-anticipated consolidation of both schools.

Last February, the Bendale/Thomson/Edgewood/Donwood Park Accommodation Review Committee recommended the consolidation of Bendale BTI and Thomson CI, but funding issues are keeping the project from going forward.

Currently, the Toronto District School Board is tackling a debt of almost $63 million, and the province doesn’t want to see the school board dig themselves a deeper hole.  The board needs ministry approval before they can advance with their plans.

“The board approved, in principal, the Bendale-Thomson merger about a year ago — we don’t have the money for it,” Scott Harrison, Scarborough Centre trustee, said.  “The province is our banker, they’re the ones that dole out the money to the school board, and they have to see a good financial plan.”

The ARC’s plan to resolve funding issues includes the sale of the school board’s surplus properties.

“We have 90 properties that have been declared surplus by the school board, and those properties will generate revenues for the board to help clear off that $63 million dollar debt and move forward into rebuilding and consolidating those two schools,” Harrison said.

According to Harrison, these school board-owned surplus properties include several houses and abandoned warehouses.

The ARC sent out a letter mid-January to inform community residents and students of their progress.

“My issue is, and I think the community’s issue is, we’ve done all this work and nothing’s happened,” Harrison said.  “That’s where I know what’s going on behind the scenes, but the community doesn’t see that, and that’s the frustrating part for everybody.”

The ARC had not yet decided which site would hold the extensive renovations to house the students of both schools.