Full-day kindergarten is coming to North Toronto elementary schools in Sept. 2014. As the first step public consultations on making room for the program are about to get underway at Armour Heights, John Wanless, John Ross Robertson, Allenby and North Prep.
Implementing full-day kindergarten is like adding an extra grade of students to each school which requires an increase to the number of classrooms by about 10 percent — no easy task in a brick and mortar building.
Currently junior and senior kindergarten students are only at school for half days, which allows two classes to share a room. When full-day kindergarten starts, each class will need its own room. At the same time, the junior and senior kindergarten class sizes will increase from 20 (with 1 teacher) to an average of 26 (with 1 teacher and 1 early childhood educator).
All five of the North Toronto elementary schools in Eglinton-Lawrence are already pretty full. As the first part of the consultation, each school has formed a space review committee made up of parents, school staff, and daycare reps. Their task is to identify any space in the school that can be used more effectively.
This information allows the Toronto District School Board to implement full-day kindergarten with the fewest disruption to the school community at the lowest possible cost.
You may have seen yellow and black lawn signs in the Wanless area prompted by worries that the Wanless boundaries might have to shrink to make room for full-day kindergarten. Fortunately, based on the Wanless space review committee’s thorough work, board staff believes that we can keep the current boundaries intact.
This is an example of the best type of consultation; one in which community insight drives the action of a public body. I personally want to thank the members of all five space review committees for volunteering their time and creativity to this important work.
The other schools’ space review reports are being prepared.
The public consultations will also look at two non-full-day kindergarten issues. The first is to try to fix pre-amalgamation boundaries that have been a source of concern for years. The second is to try to provide room for expected enrolment growth now that the grandchildren of the baby boomers are reaching school age.
To help plan the consultation process, a committee has been formed made of members representing all five schools. A public meeting will be held on March 20 at Lawrence Park CI to describe to the community the plan that emerges from this committee.
All consultations need to be completed in May in order to allow the board to vote in June on how to implement full-day kindergarten in these schools in time for the Sept. 2014 ministry deadline.
Unfortunately I am unable at this time to participate in these consultations or decisions in any way.
A constituent raised a charge that my participation would be a conflict of interest, since my wife and I own our home in the area being reviewed. While I don’t believe that this would put me in a conflict of interest, the law is unclear and I could be found guilty.
This past month, a trustee in Hamilton has been charged due to her participation in a school review near her home. Until it becomes clear what is a conflict, and what isn’t, I am unable to play a part in this process.
For information on how to participate in the full-day kindergarten consultations (and on many other issues), visit www.tdsb.on.ca/goodman. Despite this potential conflict, I am able to deal with any and all other issues related to our schools.
As always, you can reach me at [email=Howard.Goodman@tdsb.on.ca]Howard.Goodman@tdsb.on.ca[/email].
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