By Errol Young
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is so focused on closing community schools and selling off the land that they are skewing the data that they present to the community at Accommodation Review Committees (ARC).
That is what happened in the Jane and Finch last year.
TDSB staff told them the local enrolments were going to plummet and never recover.
Dr. Spence, the Director, made it clear that “the status quo was not an option” and that Shoreham P.S. had to close.
The community rallied and shut down one of the public ARC meeting where the staff wanted to break the community into small groups where trained former staff were to lead everyone to the ultimate conclusion that Shoreham must close.
The Board blinked when confronted with a united community.
Now it is recommending that the status quo is the only option.
This year, the Board experts justify the change by saying that they have discovered that there is a possibility of over 10,000 homes being developed in the area and they may even need two more new schools built.
So there are only two possible conclusions about TDSB staff integrity.
Either the Board’s planning staff is so incompetent that they have only just read the York University Secondary plan that has existed since 1991 and that was updated December 4, 2009 and, as well, these same professionals did not notice the two new subway stops being built in the area and the usual density that that brings?
Or perhaps, and this is truly disturbing, TDSB staff politically manipulate the Jane Finch ARC data last year so that it looked like, in the words of Dr. Spence, “the status quo is not an option?”
Now, Jane and Finch has been told that we should be grateful to the TDSB for, as the Director himself has said, “(we) listened to the community” and therefore did close Shoreham, but we are not.
The Board listened only when the community shouted.
Now the community is even more suspicious of the Board’s motives.
The Board tried to manipulate people and failed.
The Board is hell bent on selling off as much of our publicly owned land for fire sale prices. It is like a religion to some of them.
What other community’s enrolment data were mishandled, either incompetently or politically to get the school closing results you all seem to crave?
We know that the Arlington Middle School data was changed just after the Board moved to close that school and declare it surplus so that the province got it for the French Catholic Board.
Last school year, the Board launched many ARCs mainly in poorer neighbourhoods of Toronto.
The map of the ARCs and the United Way Poverty by Postal Code matched in a less than coincidental way.
It leaves people to wonder why is the TDSB acting like an agent of the province and not standing up for its communities, protesting with the residents and parents of the city against the inadequate provincial capital funding?
There will be consequences to the TESB’s deceitful process last year.
Save Ontario Schools (SOS), a city wide organization committed to fighting school closings, will be talking to the parents in any ARC set up in the future and telling them that the TDSB’s data is unreliable and manipulative.
SOS and other communities will continue to resist this maniacal campaign to close schools and sell off public property.