Fate of two schools foggy almost four years after call to close one

Two North York elementary schools have been left in limbo for nearly four years while a decision to close one and move its students to the other has yet to be implemented.

In April 2008, the Toronto Catholic District School Board began a review that determined enrollment numbers at St. Catherine Catholic School, at 30 Roanoke Rd., weren’t strong enough to keep the school open and a date of June 30, 2011, was set as the school’s last.

“From my heart I do believe this is the wrong decision,” Ward 11 trustee Angela Kennedy said. “This decision is wrong. There’s all kinds of other alternatives.”

The expected enrollment numbers used in the decision to close the school have since proved wrong. In 2011, 124 kids were enrolled at St. Catherine, 51 per cent more than the 82 projected in the C.N. Watson report the board looked at in 2008.

The St. Catherine school community has accommodated the board while the school’s fate remained in question, St. Catherine Catholic School Advisory Council chair Christmas Sy said a Nov. 24 board meeting.

“Since the TCDSB has had ample time to obtain funding and implement their decision to close the school, which they have failed to do at this point, it is time that the TCDSB correct all wrongs in this process and follow their own guidelines and reverse the decision to close the St. Catherine school,” he said. “Once the board makes its decision, implementation must occur the following year.”

To fill the void left by the planned closure, an expansion of six classrooms is set for Annunciation Catholic School, at 65 Avonwick Gate. Funding for the expansion, though, has yet to be confirmed, Sy said, citing letters from the office of the director of education.

One of those letters, dated June 15, 2010, says the closure of St. Catherine had been pushed back from June 30, 2011, to June 30, 2013.

“We’re talking about a school community that’s been in turmoil for close to four years,” trustee John Del Grande said. “Dragged through an [review] process, not knowing what’s going on, not having the other options brought forward and listened to.

“This clearly is a decision [where] we can right a wrong.”

The TCDSB is expecting a report in January on the St. Catherine school closing. A review of that report by the board is to follow.