Grade changes coming to York Mills public schools

Local parents critical of review process after having voiced several concerns about reconfiguration


Published:

York Mills Collegiate Institute will carry Grades 9 to 12 as of September 2018

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has made some changes to the grade ranges of 11 schools in the York Mills area. 

On Nov. 23, the TDSB trustee board approved the program area review team’s recommended plan for the York Mills Collegiate Institute cluster of schools. The plan addressed 11 schools, including Owen and Harrison Public Schools and St. Andrew’s and Windfields Junior High Schools.

“We did an examination and made the decision that York Mills C.I. will become a [Grades] 9 to 12 school,” said Ward 13 TDSB trustee Gerri Gershon. 

St. Andrew’s and Windfields will now become middle schools, carrying Grades 6 to 8. The elementary schools that feed them will become JK to Grade 5, with the exception of Armour Heights Public School.

Several community meetings in the fall showed that not everyone was supportive of the plan.

“There was certainly some conflict and lots of disagreement,” admitted Gershon. “But in the end the decision was to move to that configuration.”  

Local parent Zami Zucker was critical of the community meetings, calling them a “futile attempt [to] appease the public.”

“I felt [the TDSB] had already made their decision,” she said. 

During the meetings, Zucker said some parents questioned the preparedness of Grade 6 students who would be attending middle school one year earlier than expected. 

Gershon also noted the concern.

“Some of them are going to have to walk or bus longer distances, and parents were concerned that they might not be ready and mature enough,” she said.  

According to Zucker, the TDSB is suppose to be putting teams together to help the students and parents transition.

Residents were also concerned the plan hadn’t considered accommodation for students from possible future developments such as the 260 townhouses proposed for the northeast corner of York Mills Road and Leslie Street. 

Some schools in the cluster are already over capacity. Owen Public School is at 130 per cent capacity, with 625 students in a building built for 500.

However Gershon said the reconfiguration will likely ease any overcrowding issues. 

“We’re taking a grade level out of Owen, [meaning] we might have room to accommodate more students,” she said. 

The new changes will come into effect in September 2018.

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