NEWS

TDSB could ask for more time on school closures at meeting tonight

02/10/2015 07:10 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT
The Toronto District School Board will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss possible school closures as part of 13 directives handed down by the province.

The board must present a three-year plan on the closures to Education Minister Liz Sandals by this Friday.

Earlier this month, the board released a list of 60 schools – 48 elementary schools and 12 high schools – that are being reviewed for closure due to enrolment of less than 65 per cent. The list was assembled after the province demanded the board cut costs and deal with internal turmoil.

Many board trustees have spoken out against the tight deadline saying more time is needed to discuss a long-term plan already in place. Ward 8 Eglinton-Lawrence trustee Jennifer Arp told CBC News the school board will likely vote unanimously tonight to ask the province for more time to review the plan.

On Monday, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, a local of the Ontario elementary teachers’ union, released an analysis that found the majority of the schools on the list serve some of the city’s most vulnerable students in terms of socio-economic challenges.

The analysis also stressed that the schools provide a host of other social services, like daycares and adult education programs.

Mayor John Tory wrote a letter to Sandals and the chair of the TDSB in January asking that the city be “meaningfully consulted” during the process because schools are community hubs and are essential to healthy neighbourhoods.

Today, Coun. Mike Layton will table a motion at a city council meeting that would ask the province to suspend the plan to close or sell schools until it amends the criteria for what are considered underutilized schools.

Though city council has no official say in the matter, several school board trustees are expected to be on hand in a show of support for the motion.

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