Dear Minister Lecce,
Thank you for taking the time to meet with the Toronto District School Board last month, and for the encouraging and positive discussion about capital projects and COVID-19. I want to take this opportunity to follow up on our conversation and outline some next steps for further discussion.
To start, thank you for your commitment to improve the Approval to Proceed process. An expedited process means that we can address accommodation needs earlier while saving funds which can be redirected back into the classrooms to support student achievement. I was encouraged by your commitment to reduce red-tape in this area and move things forward.
As we discussed, our Long-Term Accommodation Strategy is focused on balancing enrolments in schools throughout our system and increasing equitable access to programs and opportunities. We were happy to provide some further insight into the need to increase benchmarks for construction in large urban settings and the direct financial impacts on the TDSB. As well, lifting the moratorium on school closures is a significant and much needed step for the TDSB if we are to right-size our system. Together, these two actions will help the TDSB make the necessary changes to support our current and future students.
We appreciate your consideration to allow Boards to submit Capital Priorities projects based on their size. Over the past two years, the Toronto District School Board has received funding for only three of the 10 projects submitted for consideration, resulting in a strain on capacity and programs for students in the remaining seven areas. As the largest school board in Ontario, an opportunity to be considered based on our size would, hopefully, lead to more projects being approved and ultimately supporting more students.
I look forward to a follow up conversation about urban intensification in Toronto and the challenges and opportunities it brings to our Board. The Toronto Lands Corporation would be an extremely valuable partner in that conversation, as well.
Finally, we are grateful for the ongoing support you have shown during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are extraordinary times and we value the guidance and funds you have provided to help our students, staff and communities.
I would appreciate another opportunity to discuss how we can continue to work together to support students in Toronto. I will reach out to schedule another meeting soon.
Thank you for your continued work and advocacy for students in Ontario. Stay safe and well.
Chair, Toronto District School Board