Archives for: April 2008

04/28/08

Permalink 10:53:22 am, by mleslie Email , 72 words, 187 views   English (US)
Categories: Individual school case studies

Chartwell School Awarded LEED Platinum Ranking

Seaside, CA - April 28, 2008 - Today, a broad coalition of parents, teachers, school superintendents, government administrators and advocacy organizations gather to discuss government initiatives, best practices, the benefits of building environmentally responsible schools, and the official unveiling of Chartwell's LEED Platinum ranking. Chartwell School, recognized today by both the U.S. Green Building Council and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, is a nationwide example of how to create improved learning environments for children.

Permalink 08:33:21 am, by mleslie Email , 34 words, 270 views   English (CA)
Categories: Toronto updates

TDSB Facility Inventory 2007/2008 Facilities Listed by Ward

The Toronto District School Board has released a list of its facilities that is organized alphabetically by ward. The listing includes location, building area, yard area, number of portables, enrolment, capacity and utilization rate.

04/16/08

Permalink 04:00:50 pm, by mleslie Email , 87 words, 268 views   English (CA)
Categories: Toronto updates

TDSB Report on School Closings

On April 10th, 2008 the TDSB Planning and Priorities Committee received the report of a "General Asset and Program Planning Working Group" made up of 7 trustees. The working group identifies policies to guide the development of a capital and program plan that would result in a significant number of school closings; and the reinvestment of savings in major maintenance, additions and new schools. The proposed process would be lengthy; require the engagement of community leaders; and take place ward-by-ward.

Please click on the headline to read the report.

Permalink 08:39:48 am, by mleslie Email , 121 words, 251 views   English (CA)
Categories: Toronto updates

School closings on table

Apr 16, 2008
by Kristin Rushowy & Louise Brown, Toronto Star Education Reporters

With enrolment plummeting by 4,000 students a year, Toronto's public board should close some small and half-empty schools and aim for elementary schools with 450 pupils and high schools with 1,200, says a landmark report before trustees tonight. The cost of operating 550 schools – 91 of them half-empty – is "the largest financial albatross around our necks," says Toronto District School Board chair John Campbell. Only by shutting some down can the board free up money to open new schools in boom areas such as Scarborough and offer more course choices for high school students, says the General Asset and Program Planning (GAPP) Working Group Report. (Click on headline to read the rest of the article).

04/06/08

Permalink 11:58:35 am, by mleslie Email , 638 words, 225 views   English (CA)
Categories: Toronto updates

Toronto is goin' old school .... Aging public classrooms need to be replaced, but it will only happen if some are closed, too

by Moira MacDonald, The Toronto Sun
March 31, 2008
When it comes to getting new public schools for Toronto, there's two ways to be: All-out cynic or get Zen about it. Whether you choose frustration or patience, new schools will still take a long time.

There's no question that, like the rest of its infrastructure, this city needs major rebuilds of its public schools. The buildings are aging -- more than one-third are more than 50 years old. They are also not well-maintained, owing to a habitual thieving of maintenance budgets to pay for other things (this year's robbery equals $40 million).

A Toronto District School Board report nearly three years ago projected the board would have a $1.4-billion backlog of repairs by this fall. Tech schools -- supposed to train those skilled trades workers our economy apparently needs -- have been hit hard, with deteriorated facilities designed to train workers for our economic needs 30 or more years ago.

The northeast part of the city is also in desperate need of schools just to keep up as it is one of the few parts of Toronto experiencing a student population explosion.

A staff report to be discussed at a TDSB meeting on April 10 is supposed to be the first official step toward getting something rolling. As good a sign as this is, these are still methodical, baby steps. That report is supposed to get trustees thinking and deciding what their priorities will be for student programs. Once they figure that out, that should tell them what kind of school facilities those programs will need, and where. And once that's decided trustees can -- if they'd just get like the Nike slogan and "do it" -- start the process of closing schools and consolidating students so the board can generate the necessary government dollars to build and rebuild new schools.

TDSB chair John Campbell says the board could be ready to close half-empty schools as soon as September 2009. His colleague Mari Rutka, who heads up the board's facilities committee, thinks that date is "a little optimistic" and thinks it will be more like 2010. For those who watched the TDSB rush to a well-orchestrated terror campaign to close down 130 schools in 1998, and then turn around and close only 10 with nothing since, what's another year?

ANOTHER BAILOUT

Trouble is, with such a long lag time between 1998 and now, most current trustees have no memory of the financial cushions provided at the time to help the board downsize, including close schools. So now folks at the TDSB are hopeful the provincial government will again give it money to tide it through the school consolidation period, basically paying the board for its overspending on unnecessary, deteriorating building space, while it whittles that space down.

Some may think it's only child and neighbourhood-haters who would push for schools to be closed. In the case of the TDSB -- and other boards with aging infrastructure -- it's only kid-haters who would want kids to continue to be educated in mouldy portables and shabby aging buildings, the way they are now, instead of put into new schools that don't trigger asthmatic attacks.

While the McGuinty Liberal government does give some money to replace schools best-suited for the wrecking ball, the only other way to build new schools is to prove you've got more students than available space. With a loss of more than 32,000 students in the last six years (if schools are an average of 500 students, that's 64 schools right there) and no school closures, the TDSB has moved in the opposite direction. There won't be any construction cranes swinging until trustees get serious about closing schools.

How many schools closed? Where? How many new schools built and where? Depends on what trustees decide.

And now excuse me. Not being a cynic, I need to pick a new meditation mantra to get me through the next few years.

Build Green Schools.ca

These pages are a resource for students, parents, staff and neighbours who wish to make the buildings and yards in their school community sustainable, high-performance and "green". The site was originally created for members of the Runnymede Public School community in the west-end of Toronto, but has expanded. This blog is owned and maintained by Marshall Leslie (see www.mleslie.com). You can also follow us on Twitter @greenschools_ca

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