St. Bruno and St. Raymond separate schools are to be be consolidated due to low-enrolment, if their school board has its way.
On Jan. 21 the Toronto District Catholic School Board approved the proposal to merge the two at the St. Raymond site.
According to Ward 9 trustee Jo-Ann Davis, the decision is due to dropping enrolment and a changing demographic.
“St. Bruno and St. Raymond were both schools that were at a low capacity,” Davis said. St. Bruno had a student population of about 100 in a school that accommodates approximately 380 students and St. Raymond’s had a student population of more than 200 in a school with a capacity of 560, she said.
The board has asked the Ontario government to fund the building of a new school on the St. Raymond site. If approved, it would likely be open for September 2020 or 2021. It will feature enhanced programming — like French immersion, art and music programs or sports-focused programs — for its students, Davis says.
“It is difficult when you have a student population of 100 students to really be giving a variety of extra-curricular programming because you only have a handful of teachers. It is also very difficult … to bring in enhanced programming with such a small student population,” Davis says. “You can get a lot more variety in a larger school.… We have made a commitment to the community to bring in some sort of enhanced programming with the school.”
This leaves the question of what to do with St. Bruno in the Wychwood area. Ward 21 councillor Joe Mihevc is adamant about not wanting to lose it entirely.
“We don’t want to lose a community asset from our neighbourhood,” Mihevc said. “That green space is really, really important and secondly the building itself is important. It has a wonderful gym a wonderful library.”
Davis is currently organizing a meeting with local organizations who have shown interest in developing a community hub allowing it to remain an asset in the community.
“We have invited different local organization that we have partnered with. Whether that’s Mothercraft, Dovercourt Boys and Girls, there’s a lot of different local organization,” Davis said. “We would be creating space where they would be taking over parts of the school … so there would be lots of different local partners that would be there, that would provide different benefits to that local community.”
Mihevc said he would support that idea.
“If they can find an alternative use, that would be the best,” he said.