02/03/2015 12:29 EST | Updated 04/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Tory pens letter to TDSB, asks for role in school closure decisions

Mayor John Tory sent a letter to the chair of the Toronto public and Catholic school boards Monday night, asking that his office be "meaningfully consulted" in impending decisions on the closure of underused schools in the city.

"This letter is meant to express my concern on behalf of the city about the impact these decisions may have on our residents and to urge you to take these considerations into account and to find ways to consult with us in the time ahead," Tory wrote in the letter that was also sent to Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals.

A TDSB report released last week identified 130 schools, including 84 of the board's elementary and junior high schools and 46 of its high schools, which could be targeted for closure due to falling enrolment. That amounts to about one-fifth of the board's 589 schools.

The list was assembled after Sandals demanded the TDSB provide a plan to improve its operational efficiency and deal with internal strife and submit it to her office by Feb. 13. Part of that plan will be addressing schools that are underutilized, which are defined as those running at 65 per cent capacity or less.

"As mayor of Toronto, I recognize that under current legislative, structural and administrative arrangements, neither I nor the city government have any format role to play in this admittedly complex matter," Tory wrote.

"However, because decisions around the disposition of schools can have a significant impact on the city, its neighbourhoods, its services and its residents, I wanted to highlight my concerns about a process that seems to be unfolding very rapidly around us."

Tory goes on to outline how school closures might impact local communities and that there are a number of considerations that go beyond capacity, such as the social services administered by various levels of government at school locations.

The TDSB discussed the closures at a meeting last week, but failed to come to any clear resolution about how to effectively deal with underused space. 

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