Dear Midtown Toronto Parents,
We are reaching out to you today on behalf of the Midtown Toronto Schools Parents Group, a committee of parents who live in the local community and have school-aged children currently attending one or more of the following schools: Hodgson, Eglinton, Davisville, Maurice Cody, and Oriole Park.
As I’m sure you’re aware, these are times of extreme change and growth in Midtown Toronto. Our neighbourhood is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of development, creating new pressures on the social and physical infrastructure of our local community. While the development has lead to some exciting changes, it has also exposed some very real shortcomings in how prepared the city was for this growth. Over the past half decade or so, we have seen our local schools pushed beyond capacity as enrollment figures continue to rise. With tens of thousands of new housing units projected for Midtown Toronto as this development boom continues, this is the new normal for Midtown Toronto and there is no relief from this pressure in the foreseeable future.
In response to this increase in local population, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has been making plans to create additional capacity in our local schools by way of expansion, renovation, and in some cases, the complete demolition and rebuilding of schools. In the case of Hodgson Public School, the TDSB is proposing plans that would require removing our children from their neighbourhood school for a number of years and sending them by bus to Vaughan Road Academy (for some additional detail you can view the TDSB’s plans as presented June 11, 2018 http://www.tdsb.on.ca/portals/_default/ARC_helpful_info_docs/P20180429-HodgsonCommunityMeeting-V3.pdf).
While we understand the efforts to create sufficient school capacity, we feel strongly that the best place for our kids to go to school is right here in their own neighbourhood. To relocate them by bus has the potential for negative consequences and removes them from their familiar environment. At a time when these kids may have the freedom to leave school grounds during the day, this would see them doing so in an unfamiliar neighbourhood far away from home. In addition, busing them offsite will create significant complications for those kids who are enrolled in before or after-school programs, clubs and teams, and could seriously erode the parent and community support that is so important to the success of our schools. Putting them on a bus for up to 90 minutes in traffic per day creates a serious disruption to their lives and that of their families.
Like us, you may have chosen to live in our neighbourhood because of the positive environment it presents for raising a family, and a significant piece of that environment is the local public school. We fully understand that keeping kids on site during renovations or expansion of a school will require creative and innovative solutions to ensure that educational goals can be reached and that heath and safety of the students and staff is maintained. But we believe that those solutions are available and need to be developed to their fullest. This is why we believe that the parents should have a voice in the conversation with the TDSB and the City of Toronto, and that collectively we can find a way forward that lets our kids stay in the neighbourhood during this time of renewal of our Public Schools.
Our goal is to be that voice for parents by creating a dialogue with our local school board Trustee, Rachel Chernos Lin, and through her to build a bridge of communication to the TDSB. We think that more communication and transparency will help all stakeholders be heard and understood, and to ultimately reach a solution that sees our local schools capable of educating all of the children of Midtown Toronto without the need to relocate our children outside of the neighbourhood.
If you would like to join the Midtown Toronto School Parents Group, please find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/271830393674374/ and request to be added to the group. From there you will be able to learn more about the proposed plans for Hodgson PS and alternative ideas that we are working on to present to the TDSB, stay up to date on recent developments, communicate with other group members, find meetings and become as involved as you wish.
We thank you for your time and hope that you will join us in working to keep our local public schools open and operating through these exciting and challenging times.
Joe Kiervin and Mo Tantawi, on behalf of the MTSPG