Vaughan Road Academy to re­open

Dav­isville Ju­nior P.S. stu­dents will move in come fall 2018

Annex Post - - NEWS -

Res­i­dents liv­ing in the Oak­wood Av­enue and Vaughan Road area will have to wait un­til the new year to find out if the re­cently shut­tered Vaughan Road Academy can ac­com­mo­date some much-needed com­mu­nity space.

Last month, the Toronto Dis­trict School Board (TDSB) voted to re­open the high school for Septem­ber 2018 to house 750 stu­dents from Dav­isville Ju­nior Pub­lic School un­til 2020 while their own ag­ing school build­ing is de­mol­ished and re­built.

Vaughan Road Academy — which also hap­pens to be rapper Drake’s old stomp­ing grounds — closed its doors for good this past June due to slump­ing en­rol­ment.

Since the school’s clo­sure, the neigh­bour­hood has been vo­cal in ex­press­ing an ur­gent need for more com­mu­nity pro­gram­ming and had re­quested space be set aside in the struc­ture for a com­mu­nity hub.

Jen­nifer Arp, Toronto Dis­trict School Board (TDSB) trustee for Ward 8, Eglin­ton-Lawrence, said the board should know early next year whether or not there will be room for that pos­si­bil­ity.

“I’m a firm be­liever in com­mu­nity hubs, but our first re­spon­si­bil­ity is to our stu­dents,” she said. “Once we know what the build­ing’s go­ing to look like for the Dav­isville stu­dents … then I think at that point we will know if there’s any­thing left or avail­able for the com­mu­nity.”

Staff must re­view plans for ren­o­va­tions needed to con­vert the build­ing from a sec­ondary to a pri­mary school in time for a Septem­ber 2018 re­open­ing, Arp ex­plained.

“I cer­tainly am hop­ing that there will be, you know, some­thing, whether it’s adult ESL or some job train­ing pro­gram, or a se­nior pro­gram [in the build­ing]. Some­thing that the com­mu­nity can ac­cess,” she added.

Mem­bers of the Oak­wood Vaughan Neigh­bour­hood Ac­tion Part­ner­ship (OVNAP) have a broader vi­sion in mind.

“We would re­ally like for it to be a gath­er­ing spot for the com­mu­nity,” said Bill Wor­rell, cochair with OVNAP.

“Up to now, there [has been] two op­tions: one is the school sells the prop­erty to pri­vate in­ter­ests, and the other op­tion is the school keeps the prop­erty and only uses it for school board uses,” he said.

Wor­rell said a third op­tion would be to cre­ate a part­ner­ship be­tween the school board and the com­mu­nity to cre­ate a hub that could in­clude space for se­niors and arts and youth pro­gram­ming.

TDSB spokesper­son Ryan Bird con­firmed the board has no plans to sell the site.

“The prop­erty could be used as a multi-pur­pose cen­tre, a hold­ing school dur­ing con­struc­tion projects or, in the long term, a fu­ture el­e­men­tary or sec­ondary school,” he said in an email to Post City. “As the TDSB’s use of the prop­erty changes, from time to time, there may be some un­used space avail­able, which we could con­sider leas­ing to com­mu­nity groups.”

He­len Arm­strong’s daugh­ter at­tended the school’s ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram for four years and com­pleted her stud­ies with Vaughan Road Academy’s fi­nal grad­u­at­ing class. Arm­strong said she is sup­port­ive of the com­mu­nity-minded pro­posal for the school.

“What I’m wor­ried about is [the board will] move to sell it off, and I do think that the com­mu­nity de­serves more of a hub,” said Arm­strong.

Ja­son Kunin, a for­mer teacher at Vaughan Road Academy, called the clo­sure “a huge loss.”

Kunin cur­rently teaches at West­ern Tech but stressed the need for more af­ter-school op­tions for young peo­ple in his old neigh­bour­hood, which is some­thing he be­lieves the Vaughan Road Academy build­ing could eas­ily pro­vide.

“My stu­dents at Vaughan of­ten com­plained that there was noth­ing to do and nowhere to go,” he re­called. “We re­ally need a com­mu­nity cen­tre and a place for kids to go.”

A pub­lic pool and day­care cur­rently op­er­ate at the TDSBowned site, and Arp said this pro­gram­ming will be able re­main on site. — Josh Sher­man

We re­ally need a com­mu­nity cen­tre and a place for kids to go.”

Lo­cal res­i­dent Bill Wor­rell wants to see the shut­tered school used for much-needed com­mu­nity space

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.