130 schools considered for closure

School board looking at possible closures as cost-cutting measure

A list released by the Toronto District School Board shows one in five schools across the city are being considered for closure.

The board released a list of 130 schools earmarked for review at the planning and priorities committee meeting yesterday. The schools listed are all operating under 65 per cent capacity.

Ontario Education Minister, Liz Sandals, says the board needs a plan to address the falling number of enrolled students. Decisions like which schools to close and developing policies to delineate trustee and staff responsibilities need to be made by Feb. 13.

The report released by education consultant Margaret Wilson on Jan. 15 criticizes the board for footing the bill for empty seats. It urges the board to eliminate huge renovation and maintenance expenses by the selling schools with low enrollment.

Ward 16 trustee Sheila Cary-Meaghar says enrolment numbers don’t show the whole picture.

William J. McCordic School at Victoria Park Ave. and Danforth Ave., is on the list because it is said that it’s operating at 50 per cent. According to Cary-Meaghar, McCordic is actually at capacity. It is a school for students with developmental disabilities and each student has a resource teacher.

“It makes no sense … the Minister’s plan drives me crazy,” Cary-Meaghar said.

The schools are used as community hubs that often have daycares and adult education operating in them as well.

She predicts a change in numbers in about three years citing how quickly demographics change.

Cary-Meaghar also called Wilson’s report “biased and foolish.”

The funding issues are a result of “having 12 per cent of the province’s students and only getting five percent of the capital funding,” she said.

“I have no schools in danger but I have to think about schools as a whole,” Cary-Meaghar said.

She said trustees will be “proceeding reasonably and cautiously” in future meetings.