Parents learn board’s solution to St. Anselm’s overcrowding

Public meeting spells out boundary changes in works for three years

Three years ago, when St. Anselm’s Catholic School’s parents raised money to renovate the library, they weren’t expecting the books would be replaced by desks.

A classroom had annexed two thirds of the library, and students were having their gym time indoors. That was the story shared by Catholic School Advisory Council chair, Annie O’Leary, at a public meeting Nov. 21.

The school’s population had reached a fever pitch, and the library’s annexation was only one of the factors that led to the flex zone boundaries being enforced in September 2013, and a formal boundary review request being submitted in January 2014, O’Leary said.

“We’ve been saying it for three years running that we need to do something, and there was a lack of action from the board’s standpoint,” she said. “We understand there are priorities across the whole board but, as the person who has been chasing the board, there’s been a lack of communication.”

In a final response, the Catholic school board held the public meeting in the gym of St. Anselm’s to go over the final boundary review, which would send children from the small neighbourhoods of Hyde Park and Thorncliffe Park to Canadian Martyrs Catholic School at O’Connor and Woodbine.

Without a solution, St. Anselm’s population would rocket to 415 kids in 2017 — an increase of 115 percent. A committee of five local Catholic school principals, two superintendents, two trustees and five TCDSB staff members sought a consensus, and reached it.

It was a decision that Ward 11 trustee Angela Kennedy was hoping for prior to the boundary review.

“We looked at putting a portable on, and the square footage of the school area doesn’t lend itself to a portable at all,” she said. “The reasonable solution seems to be to accommodate the students in the schools that are close by.”

The usual solution of placing portables on the school property was not an option, and unfortunately due to a new development planned at Don Mills and Eglinton, St. John XXIII was unable to offer up space as they’re expecting a boom in students.

The downside of sending children from Hyde Park and Thorncliffe Park to Canadian Martyrs is figuring out how to get the students to travel five kilometres to their new institution.

“We can work out the details of the transitioning throughout the school year,” Kennedy said, prior to the town hall. “Hopefully we can all play nicely together.”

The board provided an analysis for each of the affected schools, covering catchments, student locations, projected growth, development, school capacity and transportation.

Next steps include the planning of a boundary adjustment and implementation for the following school year.

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Posted: Nov 30 2016 9:43 am
Filed in: NEWS