Last Winter I joined with Toronto City Councillor John Filion and Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee Alexander Brown for an Education Forum at McKee School. It was a productive forum where the issue of school infrastructure and school enrolment pressures in Willowdale were discussed. I took the thoughts and concerns expressed during the meeting to Minister Mitzie Hunter, the Minister of Education to see what solutions were available. During our discussion Minister Hunter suggested hosting a follow up Education Forum in Willowdale so that she could hear from parents directly.
On October 30th, 2017, at Earl Haig Secondary School we hosted the follow up forum along with Councillor Filion and Trustee Brown. It was a well attended event with hundreds of parents coming out to discuss solutions to enrollment pressures in Willowdale. Minister Hunter discussed our government’s investment towards school infrastructure.
During the meeting Minister Hunter spoke about education investment in Willowdale through the Capital Priorities program that is used to fund business cases submitted by local school boards; as they are in the best position to know what projects are necessary to address local needs. One example discussed was that of the new Avondale Public School.
To address significant enrolment growth expectations in Willowdale, the Ministry of Education (EDU) approved total project funding for TDSB in the amount of $17.3 million for the construction of a 553 pupil place replacement school on the existing Avondale Public school site. The project is currently under construction.
In April 2017, the board requested a change in scope to increase the capacity of the new Avondale Public School to 875 pupil places by constructing a third-storey addition with fourteen classrooms. The board’s request was in response to its latest enrolment projections which forecast a much higher enrolment in the area than initially expected. On April 17, 2017, EDU approved additional capital funding of $6.1 million for the TDSB to construct a third-storey addition at the new Avondale Public School.
It was also announced that the TDSB has submitted two business cases that are currently being evaluated by EDU. The proposed business cases are expansions projects at Hollywood Public School and McKee Public School. These types of business cases, and the construction of Avondale School are examples of how our government works with school boards to support regional and community growth needs.
I would like to thank the Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter, Councillor John Filion, Trustee Alexander Brown and all the parents for participating. I look forward to continuing to work together in ensuring that the proper school infrastructure is in place for the growing population of Willowdale.
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