The Toronto Danforth Pupil Accommodation Review Committee revealed its recommendations for East End secondary schools at a busy public meeting at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute on March 11.
The provincial ministry initiated the review process when it requested information on all Toronto District School Board facilities that were operating at less than 65 per cent capacity. In the East End, that includes Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, currently at 41 per cent, and Monarch Park Collegiate, at 67 per cent. Also included in the review were East York Collegiate, at 67 per cent, Eastdale Collegiate, at 35 per cent, Riverdale Collegiate at 101 per cent, and East York Alternative, overenrolled at 160 per cent of its capacity..
Facilitator Audrey Amo pointed out that of the dozen PARCs she has participated in, this may be the first where no major closures are proposed. Eastern Commerce is set to close, but currently has no students – the closure is a formality that will allow it to reopen as an aboriginal school.
The main changes proposed in the committee’s recommendations are splitting up Greenwood Secondary and the School Of Life Experience, currently sharing a building at 94 per cent of capacity.
Greenwood – a school where newcomers attend one to three semesters to build English skills before moving into other schools – would move into its own section at Danforth. SOLE, an alternative school with a flexible schedule, would likewise take over an area at Monarch Park Collegiate with a separate entrance.
The proposal was chosen from a dozen initial ideas, said Amo, nine of which were investigated in detail. The final choice – an emotional and difficult one, by many accounts – was made with an anonymous ballot by voting members of the 41-member PARC only the night before.
“It was easy in the first four meetings,” Amo said. “The hardest part is to come to the conclusions, because status quo was not an option.”
Amo made clear to the crowd that the option presented at the meeting was not the final word, though she later admitted PARC recommendations are almost always later adopted. The committee’s recommendations will be looked at by board staff, who will then write their own report and present that to board trustees, who are expected to make a decision in June of this year.
“No matter what we come up with as a committee, that is only a recommendation, and it will be up to the board as to whether all, some, or none of the recommendations are implemented,” she said.