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Majority of elementary schools on TDSB closure list serve vulnerable students

02/09/2015 10:06 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT
The Toronto public school board's looming closures of some schools will disproportionately affect the city's most vulnerable students, according to a new analysis released by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto Monday. 

The TDSB has assembled a list of 60 schools in 17 neighbourhoods — 48 elementary and 12 high schools — currently operating under 65 per cent enrolment that will be reviewed for closure by 2012.

The list was put together after Education Minister Liz Sandals issued 13 directives to be implemented by the board, including closing underutilized schools to increase operating efficiency. The board is to present a plan for carrying out the directives to Sandals by this Friday, Feb. 13. 

The ETT, the largest local of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario union, said in a preamable to the analysis the approach to selecting schools is "flawed" because "focusing on utilization ignores that many of these schools support students with special needs, provide alternate programs, and/or serve as community hubs."

Using what's called the Learning Opportunities Index — which combines several factors to measure the socio-economic challenges faced by students at any school — ETT found that 19 of the elementary schools on the list, or 40 per cent, are in the top fifth of the LOI. In other words,  40 per cent rank above the median for schools with high socio-economic needs. 

Thirty-three of the elementary schools, or 68 per cent, are in the top half of the LOI, ETT says. 

Similarly, 22 of the elementary schools, or 45 per cent, are included in the Model Schools for Inner Cities Program. Schools within this program are "typically in neighbourhoods where a large number of students live in poverty," the analysis says. 

The analysis also revealed that 29 of the elementary schools currently running at under 65 per cent enrolment will reach that threshold within twenty years. 

The closures list will take top priority at the next meeting of the TDSB board on Tuesday night, the last before Sandals's deadline. 

In an interview on CBC's Metro Morning last week, Sandals said she isn't necessarily interested in being handed a list of schools set for closure by the board. 

"What we're really looking for is that they have a better plan than they have right now to manage their capital assets," she told host Matt Galloway. 

"I want to see a plan where money that is currently ending up being used for underutilized space maintenance goes back into programming for kids."

Below is the full list of schools set for review:

Correction : A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Education Minister Liz Sandals was previously a trustee with the TDSB, when in fact, she was formerly a trustee with the Upper Grand District School Board in Guelph. (Feb 06, 2015 1:33 PM)

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