11/28/2012 10:36 EST | Updated 01/28/2013 05:12 EST

Toronto parents say schools overcrowded, unsafe due to provincial funding freeze

TORONTO - Parents say two Toronto schools are overcrowded and the governing Liberals are stalling projects that would make more room.

They say Swansea and Keele public schools are up over 30 per cent capacity, with kids crammed into portables with inadequate access to washrooms and gyms.

They say the Toronto District School Board approved school additions, but they're in jeopardy because the government put a hold on capital projects.

Robin Pilkey of the Swansea parent council says she fears the projects won't be completed in time for the roll-out of full-day kindergarten for four- and five-year-olds.

She says she expects the schools to be unsafe, overcrowded, unsanitary and no place for children to learn.

The government has frozen new capital money to the school board until it can show that there won't be any cost overruns of new projects.

But Education Minister Laurel Broten says that doesn't include renovations and retrofits to roll out full-day kindergarten.

Swansea, Runnymede and Keele public schools have been allocated $4 million to implement the program, she said.

The other projects the parents discussed — the ones that don't relate to full-day kindergarten — didn't have previous approvals to move ahead, she said.

"So the suggestion that they're being held up because of the current freeze is not accurate," Broten said.

The government froze the board's funding for new capital projects after it was revealed that a $21.7 million retrofit of a downtown school could up to $11 million more.

Broten warned in October that she may even send in a supervisor if the board couldn't sort out its financial problems.

The board, which has a budget shortfall, has rejected a plan that would have seen certain parcels of playgrounds sold off in order to finance capital repairs.