One in five Toronto schools targets for possible closing

Declining enrolment is taking a huge toll on Canada’s largest school board, and one in five schools now are targets for possible closing.

The Toronto District School Board released a list on Wednesday evening that compares the number of students an institution can accommodate to its enrolment numbers.

Of the 473 elementary schools, 84 are using 65 per cent or less of their capacity in the current academic year. The situation is bleaker for secondary schools, with 46 of 116 falling below the 65-per-cent threshold.

The school board is coming under renewed pressure from the Ontario government to sell surplus properties. However, the schools with the lowest enrolment will not automatically be sold. The school board must now look at the list of schools that are under the 65-per-cent level and decide whether to close them.

Blame politics, not parents, for Toronto’s shrinking schools

I had the opportunity to act as supervisor of the TDSB for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years. Interestingly, Premier Kathleen Wynne was one of the trustees that were under supervision. Many of the issues that were identified at that time (and long before) have re-emerged in the work of Ms. Wilson, especially the need for school closures and real estate rationalization.

In my 1971 graduating year from Monarch Park Collegiate, the student population of the now amalgamated board was in excess of 400,000. Today, that population hovers around 250,000. Sadly, despite many staff recommendations, little has been accomplished in ‘cutting the cloth to fit the suit’. If any commercial endeavour was obliged to operate 100 per cent of its physical plant in a 60 per cent revenue environment for such a long time, it would long since have gone bankrupt. And yet, principally for political reasons, the situation is perpetuated.