A daunting dilemma at Dante Aligheri Academy is on its way to a resolution.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board high school, located on Playfair Avenue, has been unable to accommodate its student population in its main building for six years. Many students are either in the 20 portables on site or, in the case of the grade 9 students, in leased space at the old Bathurst Heights building. However, with Bathurst Heights slated for a September re-opening as John Polanyi Collegiate Institute, time and options were running out.
On June 15, Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle announced the province would be granting Dante Alighieri Academy $16.4 million originally intended for expansion to the school’s existing building. While thankful for the funding, Dante Alighieri principal Flora Cifelli said their plans for the school require more.
“The $16.4 (million) is amazing, we’re very happy and thankful, but we are asking for a replacement school,” she said adding that she is unsure of how much more it would cost. “The board is putting together a business plan to present to the ministry.”
Cifelli said it may be three to four years before a new school is built. Until then, grade 9 students will be housed in leased space at Sir Sanford Fleming, which recently closed its doors. Its students will move to John Polanyi CI in September.
Colle said he pursued the funding because he felt the school sincerely deserves it.
“They’ve quietly endured a lot of difficulties,” he said. “They’ve been making their sacrifices for many years, and I’m glad to go to bat for them.”