Overcrowding at 2 Toronto schools harming students: parents
Robin Pilkey, co-chair Swansea Parent Council, speaks about overcrowding at four Toronto west-end schools on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:15AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:37PM EST
Parents of students at two Toronto public schools say students are suffering after the Ministry of Education froze funding for renovations to ease overcrowding.
Swansea and Keele public schools are struggling to accommodate 30 per cent more students than the buildings were designed for, they say, but board-approved expansions can't go ahead because of the capital funding freeze.
"We feel that our kids are in an untenable and unfair situation and their success at school is being jeopardized," the co-chair of the Swansea Public School Parent Council Robin Pilkey said in a statement released Wednesday. "Our children simply cannot focus on learning in such chaotic and uncomfortable environment."
Lending her support to the parents, local MPP Cheri DiNovo said the ministry and the board need to resolve their dispute for the sake of the kids.
"Every student in Ontario has the right to a safe, supportive and healthy learning environment,” DiNovo said. "It is time for the Ministry to stop fighting with the TDSB and start focusing on the needs of students."
The ministry imposed the funding freeze in October, citing a possible $10 million cost overrun for an overhaul of the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Regent Park.
The board was already under fire after it was reported during the summer that the TDSB Trade Council, which has an exclusive contract with the board, had overcharged for maintenance work.
Revelations found the board had paid $300 for the installation of a pencil sharpener, for example, and $3,000 for an electrical outlet, prompting a flurry of criticism when they came to light around the time trustees were scrambling to balance the books with a $58 million spending cut.