Fates of eight schools to be decided

[attach]1832[/attach]The school board has some vital votes tonight on whether to keep eight public schools open.

Board staff and a local accommodation review committee recommend Arlington close by September 2011 and J.R Wilcox, Cedarvale, Humewood and Rawlington all expand to grade eight to accommodate area students.

Briar Hill school

Another local review committee recommended closing Briar Hill PS and moving students to nearby school sites. A minority report by some committee members recommended putting a new JK to 3 school at the site, which could be redeveloped with a residential building.

That was supposed to come to the school board tonight, but instead a decision’s been postponed to allow time to explore the options.
No decision have been made yet regarding selling the site, redevelopment or closing the school, but staff has been asked to look at how much it would cost to build a new Briar Hill school on-site if the lot was redeveloped.

“If we expand West Prep and Fairbank Middle School to accommodate Briar Hill kids that would cost $4 million,” local school trustee Howard Goodman said. “So can we put that (same) $4 million and instead build a school within a development site.”

Davisville Public School

Another big decision tonight is what to do with Davisville PS. The staff and local accommodation review committee recommend improvements to this school, Maurice Cody, Eglinton, Hodgson and the Metropolitan Toronto School for the Deaf.

There was also a statement by staff to keep a school presence at Davisville and the other local schools.

But on May 31, trustees at the Planning and Priorities Committee removed that assurance of maintaining a school presence and also voted against recommended improvements.

Local trustee Josh Matlow said he will be pushing tonight for the school board to approve the capital improvements, including a permanent addition to Maurice Cody. And either himself or Goodman will seek an amendment to add back the clause about keeping a school presence at Davisville and other area schools.

“If it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t mean any (Davisville area) schools will close,” said Matlow. “Read what’s in writing in tonight’s meeting. There’s nothing suggesting any schools in the area close.”

If the recommendations fail, it will mean the status quo – no improvements, but no closures either.

What has some in the community worried is the separate redevelopment process for the Davisville site that begins in January. So an assurance of a school remaining on site would ease concerns.

“We haven’t seen a plan on what the board wants to do with the site,” said Matlow.

In the new year the school, parents and residential community will meet to explore if Davisville should be redeveloped and what kind of plan would be acceptable.

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