Parents of students from St. Anselm Catholic School have approved boundary changes designed to reduce overcrowding in East York schools.
They were invited to a meeting of the Toronto District Catholic School Board (TDCSB) Monday, where they voted on a proposal to reduce St. Anselm’s boundaries and expand Canadian Martyrs’ coverage area
After four years of deliberations, St. Anselm’s principal Richard Walo is pleased that the community has come to a decision.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the community and the other schools in the board for the benefit of all our students,” he said.
St. Anselm has been operating at overcapacity for several years, and condominium developments in the area mean the school will experience over-enrolment issues in the future. Meanwhile, Canadian Martyrs, East York’s eastern-most Catholic school, has room to spare. As early as September 2017, the school will begin to take in students who previously belonged in St. Anselm’s district.
“We’re here to serve the students,” said Canadian Martyrs principal Donato Dipaolo. “If we can accommodate more students, that’s what we’re prepared to do.”
Due to structural limitations, expanding St. Anselm is not possible, said superintendent John Shanahan. The school also sits on a small lot – adding permanent portables are out of the question. The TCDSB considered converting a portion of a residential property and a local church, but the project was turned down by the city. Building an entirely new school, with a capacity of 600 students, would cost $16 million.
According to the TCDSB, the boundary review is the best option.
Courteney O’Leary’s three children, who are in junior kindergarten, Grade 3 and Grade 5, attend St. Anselm. She says the boundary review is long overdue.
“If nothing were done, my (youngest child) would continue doing gym class in the classroom,” she said. “My other child has half a library because they had to split it to make a classroom. And my eldest would continue to play in a schoolyard that is packed with 160 kids over capacity.”
Students affected by the boundary change will be those who are already being bussed to St. Anselm.
According to Shanahan, the boundary change is a long-term solution, but will not significantly ease current overcrowding.
“It will take time for families to grow and move in,” he said.
In the meantime, short-term relief solutions such as the addition of portables will be implemented as early as January.
“Lines have to be drawn,” O’Leary said. “This community is just going to get bigger and bigger.”