Outcome of Ward 9 School Accommodation Reviews: stable & strong Catholic school communities for students

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Over the last year, Ward 9 completed two School Accommodation Reviews (SAR) each of which involved two under-subscribed schools.  One for St Bruno / St Raymond and the other for Senhor Santo Cristo / St Luke schools.

The objectives of the reviews were to bring stability and strength to the Catholic school presence in these communities, to provide better facilities and wider programming opportunities for our students, and support the overall financial health of the TCDSB.

Each review included five public meetings over five to eight months, in addition to several working meetings with committee members only.  The committees included three parents from each of the four schools, as well as students, staff, pastors, the local city councillor, and myself.

The St Bruno / St Raymond SAR committee recommended that the school communities be consolidated at the St Raymond site and that the board submit a business case to the Ministry for a new school to be built on the site.  The Senhor Santo Cristo / St Luke SAR committee recommended that the school communities be consolidated at the St Luke site and that the board submit a business case to the Ministry for renovations to the St Luke site.

On January 21, 2016, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendations of both committees.  Specifically, the trustees unanimously approved the following two motions:

For St Bruno / St Raymond, that –

  1. A business case be developed for submission to the Ministry of Education at the next available opportunity for funding of a replacement school at St Raymond.
  2. After submission of the business case, that St. Bruno be closed and consolidated with the St. Raymond school community no earlier than September, 2017. St. Bruno will act as the temporary consolidated school site once facility work is ready to commence at the current St. Raymond site and until such time as the students are able to be accommodated there.
  3. The enhanced programming for the consolidated school community will be assessed by staff in consultation with the local community.
  4. The attendance boundaries of St. Bruno and St. Raymond be combined to form the new boundary for the consolidated school.
  5. The Director of Education develop a Transition Plan including timelines to facilitate a consolidation, and the process for the naming of the new consolidated school.

For Senhor Santo Cristo / St Luke that –

  1. A business case be developed for submission to the Ministry of Education at the next available opportunity for funding to complete facilities upgrades and retrofits at St. Luke in keeping with the recommendations of the community set out in the appendix (the SAR recommendation report).
  2. After submission of the business case, that Senhor Santo Cristo be closed and consolidated with the St. Luke school community as soon as September, 2016.
  3. Enhanced programming at the consolidated school be assessed with consultation with the local community and delivered when consolidation at the current St. Luke site takes place.
  4. The attendance boundaries of Senhor Santo Cristo and St. Luke be combined to form the new boundary for the consolidated school.
  5. The Director of Education develop a Transition Plan including timelines to facilitate a consolidation, and the process for the naming of the new consolidated school.

For both consolidated schools enhanced programming for students will be delivered in consultation with the community, as promised.  We will continue to meet the needs of all of our Special Education studentsPromotion of before-and-after programs will continue, as well as all existing partnerships in support of our students and families.  This includes our partnership with Niagara University who has already indicated that they will accompany our students in the move to the St Luke site.

Those currently living within the boundary of St Bruno or St Raymond will be within the new boundary for the consolidated school at the St Raymond site.  Those currently living within the boundary of Senhor Santo Cristo or St Luke will be within the new boundary for the consolidated school at the St Luke site.  As is already the case under our Board Transportation policy, families living 1.5km or more from the school, within the transportation area for that school, or where Safety Hazards exist, are automatically eligible for transportation to and from school.  Staff are currently creating maps to clarify the boundary and transportation areas for both schools.

Transition committees which will include parents, as well as Board and school staff, will be established shortly to guide the planning process.  Rest assured, the top priority of all those involved throughout this transition is the well-being of the children in our care.

Transition Plans are being created by staff and we will continue to keep you informed about the planning process as it unfolds and becomes more defined.  The Transition Plan will include the major steps related to the physical move, Ministry business case decision timelines, facilities work, programming work, and the public process for the naming of each school, to list some of its major components.

As highlighted throughout the SARC process, we will be doing all that can be done to have the Senhor Santo Cristo and St Bruno school site remain in public hands as an asset for the local community.  Since the two SARCs made their recommendations clear I have been working with the local city councillors, MPPs and existing community partners to identify potential organizations to help in the creation of a Community Hub in both schools.  Planning has begun for an initial meeting to begin to measure local interest and confirm what is required by our potential local partners.  We are also looking into how the province can help given it’s stated desire to support the creation of Community Hubs.  The local communities will be consulted before any decision is made regarding which organization will make-up the Community Hubs.

Thank to everyone – the many parents, community members, students, staff and elected representatives – who participated in the challenging and time intensive accommodation review discussions. Your dedication speaks volumes to your commitment to Catholic education in the City of Toronto.

Our work is not yet finished – tough decisions have been made, but we have children and families to support to ensure a smooth transition to two great Catholic schools.  We must continue to work together to meet the needs and expectations of our students and communities well into the future.

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