The sky is the limit?

Ver­ti­cal schools in res­i­den­tial con­dos could help solve Mid­town over­crowd­ing is­sues

North Toronto Post - - News - KAREN ST­INTZ Karen St­intz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

Al­though the Toronto Dis­trict School Board is threat­en­ing to close some schools around the city, there is no such threat in the Yonge and Eglin­ton area. New de­vel­op­ments even come with the caveat that spots in schools are not as­sured.

The most re­cent idea is to build schools within new res­i­den­tial condo de­vel­op­ments.

Re­port­edly, the Toronto Dis­trict School Board hopes to have the first one in place by 2024. While this con­cept is new to the TDSB, it has been used to some suc­cess around the world. In ad­di­tion, the Mid­town area al­ready has a school con­nected to a condo in North Toronto Col­le­giate In­sti­tute.

Al­though learn­ing can take place in all sorts of set­tings, there are some lo­gis­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions the TDSB will need to grap­ple with if it is se­ri­ous about part­ner­ing with a de­vel­oper to build a ver­ti­cal school.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges is tim­ing the con­struc­tion of the de­vel­op­ment and part­ner­ing with the school board at the be­gin­ning of the de­vel­op­ment process so that the build­ing can be de­signed to meet school re­quire­ments.

Another is­sue will be how to ac­com­mo­date ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. It is one thing to build class­rooms, but quite another to build gym­na­si­ums and sport fields. In­de­pen­dent pri­vate schools that rent space have solved this chal­lenge by part­ner­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the YMCA, so their gym space and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar re­quire­ments are of­fered by a sep­a­rate fa­cil­ity.

Other chal­lenges for the TDSB would be bud­get­ing for a space that is leased. Fund­ing to schools is based on a model that as­sumes the TDSB owns the land and re­ceives cap­i­tal and op­er­at­ing fund­ing on a per capita ba­sis. Leas­ing the space would mean the gov­ern­ment would have to guar­an­tee fund­ing to a condominium cor­po­ra­tion.

Un­like smaller store­fronts, if the space is cus­tom built for a school, it is harder to retro­fit, and the condo would want some cer­tainty of pay­ment. On the flip side, if the school were a suc­cess, but the condo own­ers de­cided that they did not like shar­ing their home with school-aged chil­dren, the TDSB would need to be pro­tected against a mo­tion from cranky condo board mem­bers.

Ver­ti­cal schools pose an in­ter­est­ing so­lu­tion. If a school were to be lo­cated in a condo, kids could take the el­e­va­tor down to class and then back up­stairs for lunch. For kids and fam­i­lies who didn’t live in the build­ing, there would likely be op­por­tu­ni­ties to walk or bike to school since there wouldn’t be a park­ing lot for drop off.

The in­creas­ingly cash-strapped school board would also have a new school built with­out sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal out­lays.

North Toronto Col­le­giate was re­built as part of a res­i­den­tial condo

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