Teachers’ union slams plan to close schools

by | Feb 10, 2015 | News

Toronto schools that have been identified for closure by the TDSB.

Toronto schools that have been identified for closure by the TDSB.

Ian Burns

School closures were to be included on the agenda at Tuesday’s Toronto District School Board meeting, but a Toronto teacher’s union is raising its voice in strong opposition to the board’s possible decision.

“There needs to be a conversation with parents, students, and community activists about the school closures,” John Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, told Humber News.

“This shouldn’t be a cookie cutter approach,” he said.

Smith said that the province is forcing trustees to “do their dirty work” by making these school closures.

The Toronto board is considering closing or reorganizing 60 schools, 48 of which are elementary schools.

In the wake of a recent report on problems at the school board, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals, made a series of recommendations on how to get the board’s administration and finances in order.

Michael Ford, the trustee for Etobicoke North, told Humber News that he agreed with Smith.

“The process is totally wrong,” he said. “A lot of people come to these schools as community hubs, beyond just using them as nine to five classrooms.”

Ford agreed that the board does need to save money, and he supports school closures if necessary, but said he can’t support any closures under the current criteria.

“At the end of the day, this is going to hurt our communities,” he said. “We need to engage with them.”

Smith also said that many of the schools facing closure are in economically-disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The majority of elementary schools slated for closing are identified as serving the most at-risk students in the city, as shown in a map by Torontoist.com.