TDSB examines how best to accommodate students
And redevelopment possibilities discussed at school site
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Jan. 13 for Town Crier. UPDATE here.)
The possibility of redeveloping Davisville Junior Public School has drawn the ire of councillor Michael Walker who says the 48-year-old education facility should be left as is.
The Toronto District School Board is forming a local community design team in the coming months to look at redevelopment for the land just east of Yonge Street.
“I find it offensive Davisville is looked upon as (a financial) asset,” says Walker. “It’s a school first.”
According to school trustee Josh Matlow, the possibility of closing the school and redeveloping the land is one of many options being passed around at this point. Closure of the school is unlikely, he says, and redevleopment is not a certainty.
“We have met with parents and ratepayers. They have been told directly redevelopment won’t happen without their consent,” says Matlow, who is running for a council seat in St. Paul’s, ward 22. The school is currently being examined under the auspices of a board-designated Accommodation Review Committee, which looks at a cluster of schools and determines whether some should close, expand or alter programming.
The review committee for Davisville also includes Hodgson Sr PS, Maurice Cody PS, Eglinton Jr PS and Spectrum Alternative Senior School.
Some schools in this review have too many students, but Davisville does not so rather than close, it may even expand to accommodate more students, says Matlow.
The trustee said he doesn’t think the school is in danger of closing because a much-valued French immersion program was recently added at the site.
Co-chair of the Davisville parent council Rob McCready agrees.
“This (French) program is projected to grow to be larger than the English stream program by 2018, bringing the school’s utilization up to 94 percent by that time,” McCready said in an email.
“If the board had wanted to justify closing and selling off Davisville, they could have put that program elsewhere.”
However, McCready is concerned that if the committee considers expansion of Davisville that may strongly assume redevelopment of the site as well.
“As an (Accommodation Review Committee) member, I will not support any recommendations that assume redevelopment until the community has agreed to even a rough plan that would allow it,” McCready wrote.
School board facilities director Sheila Penny says, “I believe the ARC is tracking to support a school staying at this site. But we won’t know that until (it) has concluded and made recommendations to the school board in March or April.”
The current Davisville Junior Public School was built in 1962 and teaches students from junior kindergarten to grade 8. In 2002, the school was twinned with the Metropolitan Toronto School for the Deaf.