Many readers will be familiar with the challenges faced by our local schools due to rapid intensification throughout midtown Toronto. Perhaps no TDSB school has faced more adversity than Eglinton Public school, whose chronic overcrowding and direct location adjacent to Metrolinx construction have created a set of very specific challenges. Operating on a tiny swath of land, Eglinton PS uses every inch of available space to deliver programming.
The TDSB has been working to solve the overcrowding at Eglinton through a series of relief measures instituted through the Yonge-Eglinton Program Area Review Team over the last few years. Although centred primarily around alleviating pressure on Eglinton PS, a Ward 8 school, this PART did involve several Ward 11 schools in both Phase 1 (in 2016) and Phase 2 (this spring), including Leaside area school, Northlea EMS.
With the recently announced changes proposed by our provincial government with respect to secondary school funding, along with recommendations expected in June from TDSB staff related to the French Review, a decision has been made to pause all PART processes this spring at the TDSB. It was felt that such decision-making should be conducted once we had a better sense of the new landscape.
At the same time, staff and local trustees were reluctant to leave Eglinton PS without some immediate relief. As a result, the TDSB has decided to move forward with one recommendation from the Yonge-Eglinton Phase 2 PART: to enact a boundary change process between Eglinton PS, Hodgson MS and Northlea EMS. The area in question concerns a small portion of the Eglinton Junior PS and Hodgson MS attendance area that is located east of Cardiff Rd. (including both sides of Cardiff Rd.) and north of Eglinton Ave. East, effective 1 September 2020.
At the time of this publication, there was a public meeting scheduled for May 23, 2019. If approved, a short survey will be sent to all pre-reg. JK up to Grade 7 English track students at Eglinton Jr PS and Hodgson MS to determine where they would like to attend school for the September 2019 school year. From September 2020 and beyond, only new students residing in the proposed boundary change area will be directed to Northlea EMS. Although this is clearly not a long-term solution to the severe overcrowding at Eglinton PS, it is, at the very least, expected to provide a small measure of relief for the school.
What does this mean for Northlea? As of the 2019-2020 school year, Northlea is projected to be at 102% capacity. This does not include use of the two on-site portables currently in place as classrooms. Northlea uses the portables because they allow for a variety of specialty rooms (such as music, drama and sensory spaces within the school). All schools are ministry-mandated to have one specialty room. Should this boundary change be instituted, it is likely Northlea will see a decrease in the number of specialty rooms it can realistically maintain, as its enrollment is already on a slightly upwards trajectory and will likely rise, at least initially, because of the boundary change. Whatever the scenario, we are confident the excellence of programming will continue at Northlea.