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Improving Access for Students: Secondary Program Review

For the first time ever, the Toronto District School Board is reviewing all of our secondary schools at once with the vision to ensure all students have equitable access to programs and opportunities – as close to home as possible.

While some of our high schools have more students than they can support, other schools are operating way under capacity, which means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to offer courses beyond the core courses. Some schools offer amazing specialized programs such as CyberArts, International Baccalaureate, or programs in STEM. But not all schools offer these and they’re not evenly distributed around the city.

We are trying to right size our schools and have a minimum of 1,000 students per high school which maximizes not only the programming options, but also is a much more cost-effective way of operating. We are also working to reorganize some of these specialized programs so they are more fairly distributed and available to students across the Board. This is a long term plan – happening over the next eight years – but there are some steps that are happening now that will lay the groundwork for these changes.

“Our goal is to create a system of strong neighbourhood schools that provide rich programming and increased access to courses that support all pathways.”

Key Facts

  • The secondary panel has declined from a high of 140,433 students in 1976 to approximately 72,600 students today.
  • Today, there are more than 20,000 surplus seats in TDSB secondary schools.
  • As of October 2019, the average utilization rate at the 111 secondary schools in the system was 78 percent; 25 of them were operating below 50 percent of their capacity.
  • The average age of our secondary school buildings is 64.
  • Just over 50 percent of secondary students attend their home school by address (compared to 76 percent of elementary students).
  • Secondary students are choosing programs and schools in higher income areas and fleeing from those in lower income areas.
  • Secondary schools are competing for a shrinking secondary school-aged population.
  • The existing structure of secondary schools across the Board is not in sync with the TDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan.

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See the presentation from the November 2019 Public Consultation Sessions

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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