Avon­dale P.S. to get a third storey

North York Post - - News - — Gideon Scan­lon

Provin­cial fund­ing helps re­lieve ca­pac­ity is­sues in North York In Septem­ber 2018, when Avon­dale Public School stu­dents be­gin at­tend­ing classes in their new build­ing, they will have a lit­tle more room to cel­e­brate. Last month, the prov­ince an­nounced it would in­vest an ad­di­tional $6.1 mil­lion in the Wil­low­dale el­e­men­tary school’s new build­ing, bring­ing the to­tal bud­get to $23.4 mil­lion.

“The min­istry has ap­proved cap­i­tal fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of a third-storey ad­di­tion,” said Heather Ir­win, spokesper­son for the On­tario Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. “With this change, Avon­dale Public School will be able to ac­com­mo­date up to 875 pupils, 322 more than the orig­i­nal de­sign.”

While city coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion of Ward 23, Wil­low­dale, is pleased to see the min­istry in­vest in Avon­dale P.S., he is con­cerned that the prov­ince is ig­nor­ing the root cause of the pro­jected in­creases in en­roll­ment. Ac­cord­ing to Fil­ion, with the ram­pant con­struc­tion of high­den­sity con­do­mini­ums in the area, more chil­dren can fit into a school’s catch­ment zone be­fore the bound­aries can be re­drawn, or new schools built.

Toronto Dis­trict School Board trustee Alexan­der Brown said he fears that a cri­sis is im­mi­nent, es­pe­cially in the Yonge-Bloor cor­ri­dor, with pop­u­la­tion growth set to out­pace the speed at which schools or ex­pan­sions can be built.

“Avon­dale’s third floor has solved to­day’s headache, but what about to­mor­row?” said Brown.

Fil­ion shares Brown’s con­cerns and has strug­gled to con­vince the prov­ince to take pre­ven­ta­tive steps.

“The provin­cial govern­ment does not like to stand in the way of de­vel­op­ers,” said Fil­ion. “It needs to work out a plan to pro­vide schools and hos­pi­tals be­fore th­ese new build­ings get ap­proved.”

For Avon­dale par­ents with chil­dren in the school’s al­ter­na­tive pro­gram, the news of the third floor is es­pe­cially wel­come, as the two-storey plan would have seen them re­lo­cated.

Stephanie Hen­naoui, the cochair of the Avon­dale Par­ent Coun­cil whose daugh­ter at­tends the school’s al­ter­na­tive pro­gram, is es­pe­cially relieved that the school will be able to re­main in­tact.

“The school means so much to me. It has an in­cred­i­bly ded­i­cated staff, and the al­ter­na­tive pro­gram would not be pos­si­ble if teach­ers had to man­age enor­mous classes,” she said. “I am so happy my daugh­ter will be able to stay at Avon­dale.”

SHEP­PARD AVE. E. HIGH­WAY 401 This photo taken in May 2017 shows con­struc­tion al­ready un­der­way at Avon­dale Public School AVON­DALE AVE.

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