Trustee Updates – February 2017

Ward 15 newsletter header
POOLS AND CHILDCARE: FUNDING FOR SCHOOL SPACE

It has been an eventful month in relation to use of school space and our relationship with the City of Toronto. The City has just approved its 2017 budget, with mixed impact on our schools.Twenty years ago when the Province, under then Premier Mike Harris, changed the ways schools are funded, they stopped paying operating costs for childcare centres, pools and other functions that government deemed to not be “instructional space”.

This a) forced a rethink between the City and the Board on shared use of pools, and b) almost caused a dramatic increase in childcare costs. In the case of pools, the City has continued with many pools to lease them, with a lease value that covers the operating costs of these pools, and offer city-run programs there. In the case of childcare, the City stepped in some twenty years ago and offered an “occupancy grant” to school boards to cover those unfunded costs.

This year the City of Toronto, based on direction from the Mayor to cut the budget by 2.6%  opted to reconsider these commitments.

Last month, following a motion I moved at the Board, trustees joined parents and childcare advocates to fight the proposed cuts to childcare occupancy grants. I’m go glad to be able to report that we won! City Council agreed to maintain the childcare grant — at least for one more year.

With pools, we were not so fortunate. The City unexpectedly terminated its support for three pools last year, and by way of this budget terminated it support for three more, including SH Armstrong right here in our part of the city.

At a time when all levels of government are interested in supporting community hubs (which SH Armstrong/Duke of Connaught truly is), and addressing declining rates of activity for kids and youth, this decision is unsettling. It’s also hard to understand why the City would choose to cancel swim programs when so many parents talk of how hard it is to get into them in the first place.

I will continue to work with our hard-working parents and community advocates and with our area Councillors, Paula Fletcher, Mary Margaret McMahon, Mary Fragedakis and Janet Davis, to defend and protect our east-end pools, and pools throughout the city that are shared between the TDSB and the City. As the agreement that affects some 30 more pools is up for renewal this summer, you will no doubt hear more about this issue in the coming months.

It’s also important that we call on the Provincial government to step in and reconsider its funding of these spaces. They are both places of important learning for our kids, and should be valued and funded accordingly. I will be working with my Trustee colleagues to raise these concerns with the provincial government as well.

SCHOOL’S OUT! SUMMER OPTIONS FOR TEENS?

Riverdale CI is hosting an information session about Summer Options for Teens this:
Wednesday, February 22 at 6:30pm in the Library.

KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

Kindergarten is the first step in a lifelong journey that will see your child learn, grow, and succeed at the Toronto District School Board. At the TDSB, we know early learners learn best through doing; so our four and five-year-olds are introduced to math and science through play as part of Kindergarten – Grade 12 STEM programming. To inspire a love for learning, Kindergarten classrooms are bustling with inquiry and exploration through science activities, math games, art projects and more. Visit your local school during February to register.

To attend Junior Kindergarten in September, children must turn four years old by December 31. To register for Senior Kindergarten, children must be five-years-old by December 31.

All of our schools now offer Full-Day Kindergarten where students will attend Kindergarten for the entire school day. This includes a morning and afternoon schedule and a lunch break. Visit the Kindergarten website to learn more about this program and learn how to prepare your child for school.

FREE CYCLING EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND BIKE RACKS FOR YOUR SCHOOL. APPLY TODAY!

Cycling Education Programs
Schools can now apply to have a skills-based cycling education program presented at their school in the spring of 2017, free of charge!All schools are eligible to apply.
However, schools that did not receive a Cycling Education Program during the 2015/16 school year will be given priority in the selection process. All other schools will be selected through a lottery.

For more details and to access the application form, visit the EcoSchools Cycling Supports webpage and select the Cycling Education Programs tab.

Deadline to apply for a Cycling Education Program: February, 28th

Bike Rack Program — Apply for free bike racks!
Increase sustainable transportation at your school with new bike racks! All schools are eligible to apply, but will have to demonstrate need and evidence of prior efforts to promote active sustainable transportation.  For more details and to access the application form, visit the EcoSchools Cycling Supports webpage.

Deadline to apply for bike racks: June 30th, 2017

FEBRUARY IS AFRICAN HERITAGE MONTH

February is African Heritage Month at the Toronto District School Board.  African Heritage Month is an opportunity for the experiences, contributions and achievements of African Canadians to be affirmed. Throughout February, a number of activities are taking place system-wide.

An opening celebration was held on Wednesday, February 1 with the Honorable Mitzie Hunter, Ontario Minister of Education, as keynote speaker. This year’s theme is “Celebrating 150 years of African Heritage.” The month will focus on the contributions peoples of African descent have made to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and the Rites of Passage Process.

FEBRUARY IS CHINESE HERITAGE MONTH

The Toronto District School Board is proud to recognize February as Chinese Heritage Month for the first time. During this month, we celebrate the energetic culture and traditions of the Chinese community with students, staff and community members.
The Chinese community is integral to the growth and success of the City of Toronto and Canada.  Members of the Chinese community represent approximately 10 percent of the total GTA population and forms its second largest visible minority group. As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, Canadians remember and appreciate the Chinese workers who helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway that united our country.

NEXT WARD FORUM: SCHOOL COUNCILS 101
Monday, February 27, 2017
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Cosburn Middle School (520 Cosburn Ave)

UPCOMING WARD FORUM DATES

Feb 27 – School Councils 101 @ Cosburn Middle School

Mar 27 – Indigenous Education @ Riverdale CI
April 27 – facilities @ Chester Elementary School
May 30 – Fundraising @ Roden/Equinox