As I've posted here before, it's about freakin' time Toronto starts looking at its enrolment v. capacity. It continues to have the highest percentage of empty space in its schools in all of Ontario, but has been coddled over the years as its trustees refused to engage the issue. From the article:
Don Higgins, TDSB executive officer of business services, says the board is faced with few financial alternatives: As enrolment drops and per-child funding sinks with it, the board finds itself covering the pricey operating cost of its facilities by slicing other budget areas.
The TDSB has long been cited as the city's largest property-holder, and if it does choose to close schools, selling the property they stand on could be extremely lucrative.
School closures are sometimes a necessary evil, says Annie Kidder, executive director of the People for Education advocacy group. But they're often indicative of skewed funding formulas more than a decade out of date with student needs.
“There's a possibility that some of the schools that are going to close over the next couple of years maybe could have stayed open if we didn't have this disconnect.”
This will be, as I've said before, instructive. Toronto communities will start to experience what the rest of the province has spent the last two school years living, and the rest of us will be reminded that small and rural schools don't have an exclusive claim to the community that exists in every school. Every school closure, regardless of size, location, urban/rural etc. is one that affects communities-- the key is ensuring the positives of closure, consolidation, renovation, expansion and modernization outweigh the costs of closure.
This could be a real opportunity for the TDSB and its communities to begin revitalizing their facilities and programs and bring as many school learning environments as possible into this century. Let's hope that goal remains in sight.