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What is Better Schools Brighter Futures?

We all care deeply about our schools. Our children are there every day to learn. Yet schools are so much more thanthat. Schools are where we see our children grow and form friendships. It's where we go to watch our children perform in concerts and where we meet their teachers.  In some cases, these schools might be the same ones we ourselves attended. These are also the places where some of us work or where we might gather to vote or where community groups meet. Our schools are valuable to us and what happens there holds many of our most important and cherished memories.

Today and in the coming years, we face some challenging realities about education in Toronto. Enrollment is declining across the TDSB by about 4,000 students every year. Funding from the Ministry of Education is based on enrollment, so with fewer students we receive less money for operating costs. Many of our schools are aging and under-enrolled. It’s costly to maintain these buildings, which means there is less money available to spend on the programs and resources we need to prepare our children in the ways we want for the future they deserve.

However, the TDSB has an ambitious vision to create a better education system for our students. As part of our Vision of Hope, Better Schools Brighter Futures will recreate, rebuild and redevelop our current education system to meet the needs of the 21st century student. We need your help to do that.

Our schools will continue to be the places where our children learn and grow and develop into mature and responsible young people. But we want them to have the best programs, equipment and resources to do so. We will continue to meet our teachers there and watch our children's concerts and performances. But we want these to be in spaces that allow teachers and students to shine and be the best they can be. We will continue to gather in our schools for community events and meetings. But we want even more of those opportunities and we want these to take place in buildings that are energy efficient so that we make the most of the dollars we have to spend on education. The life inside and outside our school buildings, the relationships formed, the lessons taught, the successes and challenges, these are what we remember about our schools and these are what we will continue to recall, now and in the future.

What does Better Schools Brighter Futures mean for students

Our long-term Better Schools Brighter Futures vision is for TDSB schools that have:

Better programs

  • Elementary schools with enough students to provide programs with expert staff (such as music or physical education).
  • More JK to Grade 8 schools for fewer transitions for students.
  • Community hubs that work – education, recreation, health, and social services in shared buildings/sites.

Better buildings 

  • Better maintained schools.
  • Some newer schools (replacement of schools) or significant retrofits (renovations). 
  • Attractive, well-maintained, and effective learning environments. 
  • Environmentally-sustainable buildings.
  • More money to invest in students! 

State-of-the-art instructional spacesState-of-the-art instructional spacesExciting sports facilities

Why is the TDSB re-creating schools?

Better Schools Brighter Futures is driven by four key factors:

1. Program needs

We need better programs to prepare students for the future.  Our goal is to make programs more relevant, accessible and equitable to all our students.  We want schools with enough students to provide programs with expert staff (such as music teachers, librarians or other specialist teachers).  Through Better Schools Brighter Futures, we are aiming to utilize our space more efficiently, improve classrooms and facilities, create specialized science, arts and trade learning spaces, and build exciting athletic facilities.  We will prepare students for their future destinations!

2. Aging buildings

TDSB’s schools are aging.  Many schools built in the 1960s and 1970s for the baby boom generation are now in need of major renewal.  The TDSB has a backlog of about $2 billion in needed capital renewal for our current buildings. In many cases, we lack teaching spaces and equipment to prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace, especially for programs in technology and trades.

3. Declining enrollment

TDSB has fewer students now than in the 1960s and 1970s, when most of our school space was built.  The decline in enrolment continues to be a factor with each passing year. There are 29,000 fewer students today than in 2001 – a decline of more than 13%.  That is equivalent to 10 secondary schools of 1,200 and 34 elementary schools of 500. 

4. Pressures in both operating and capital funding

Since funding is based on enrollment, fewer students means less grant money from the Ministry of Education to operate programs and schools.  Heating, cleaning, and maintaining under-used schools costs more than $10 million each year.  This funding could be used for more supports and better programs for students.  

By 2019, it will take $6 billion to upgrade our facilities to a state of good repair, which includes building renewal, program upgrades and technology, code compliance, and green initiatives.  Capital funding from the government is far below our need.
The government expects the TDSB to use its unneeded capital assets (lands and buildings) to fund required capital improvements. 

Inadequate lighting and access to natural lightDecaying windows and facadesOutdated gyms and athletic facilities
Outdated science labs and technology shopsUninviting yards and landscapes

TDSB's plan: To respond to challenges, the TDSB has launched two major initiatives

To respond to challenges, the TDSB has launched two major initiatives

Toronto Lands Corporation (TLC) is a subsidiary of the TDSB. Its role is to manage leased properties and dispose of properties that are declared surplus to the needs of the TDSB, such as non-operating schools and vacant land.  Upon Ministry of Education approval, revenue generated through TLC can fund major school improvements such as renovating existing schools in disrepair and building new schools where we need them.

Better Schools Brighter Futures is a framework for program and capital planning. This will help provide the right mix of programs and schools to meet the needs of our students.  Better Schools Brighter Futures is a series of local projects to review program and accommodation options in clusters of schools.  It is centred on students and programs so we can create schools with better programs, facilities, and resources.

A Pupil Accommodation Review is a Ministry of Education process for determining the future of a school or group of schools. The Pupil Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) includes parents, educators, Board officials, and community and municipal leaders.

The PARC discusses accommodation options for the schools involved and ensures that students, parents, staff and community are engaged in the process. There will be a minimum of four public PARC meetings, including at least one where you can register to speak. Based on these meetings, the PARC makes recommendations to the Director of Education, who in turn presents a report to the Board of Trustees for consideration and final decisions.

Visit for more information, including frequently asked questions and guiding principles.

Our Mission
To enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and well-being
and to acquire the knowledge, skills
and values they need to become responsible, contributing members of
a democratic and sustainable society.
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