School upgrades in Davisville to follow closures

Davisville, Maurice Cody, Eglinton, Hodgson and Spectrum Alternative are set to get a boost from the board

After months of reviewing school needs in the Davisville area, the Toronto District School Board has voted in favour of upgrading and expanding local schools, Davisville, Maurice Cody, Eglinton, Hodgson and Spectrum Alternative.

The TDSB also voted to close eight schools, but none are in the Davisville area.

The closures will save the board $2 million in annual operating costs plus 60 million in capital repairs and those savings will be reinvested in other schools, said local trustee Josh Matlow.

Around $4 million of the savings will go to expand, retrofit and improve local schools.

Hodgson will have a community design team look at a retrofit or expansion, while Spectrum Alternative could move from Eglinton School to the Davisville site.

Maurice Cody, which is over-capacity now, is already getting two new classrooms this fall. Now the board will build even more space at the school.

Eglinton School will get a new playground, paid for fully by the board.

“We are building a new, state-of-the-art playground,” Matlow said. “And parents won’t have to fundraise a dime for it.”

Eglinton parent Yuliya Vesyatov is pleased with the results, but concerned it comes on the back of schools elsewhere.

“That’s great news for Eglinton,” she said July 7. “But I found out 22 schools in Toronto are without any playgrounds.”

She added, “We don’t want improvements for a desirable community by taking something away from other communities. We are closing a school at Jane and Finch to make improvements at Maurice Cody.”

But Matlow said school closures are the best way to accommodate students and keep revenues up.

“The reality is the Toronto District School Board has declining enrollment of 4,000 to 5,000 students a year for several years. The fewer students in the system, the fewer dollars the province gives the system,” said Matlow.

The issue of the redevelopment of Davisville was also addressed before classrooms let out for summer.

No proposal is on the table yet, but the issue will be discussed starting in January.

“What will happen is a community design team will meet to discuss the school board’s proposal to redevelop a portion of the property,” explained Matlow. “From what I’ve heard from the community they want to hear what the school board wants to do, why they want to do it. A clear business case to do it and how it will benefit the community.”

The board staff hasn’t presented what kind of development it will contemplate at the Davisville site, but Matlow says a midrise of 8-10 storeys may be appropriate.

The Director of Education Chris Spence and Sheila Penny, in charge of facility management, have given assurances that there will be a memorandum of understanding between the board and the community before anything is finalized.

“If one party doesn’t sign on, there won’t be a redevelopment,” Matlow said.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Jul 13 2010 11:20 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto