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Toronto District School Board

Lifting the Ministry of Education’s Moratorium on School Closures To Allow For Modernization Through Consolidation 

Categories: Advocacy

April 15, 2024 


Dear Minister Lecce, 

At a recent Board meeting, Trustees voted unanimously to request the Ministry of Education exempt the TDSB from the seven-year provincial moratorium on school closures and allow the Board to begin the process to modernize our under-utilized and under-enrolled schools through consolidation.  

The moratorium on school closures has severely limited the ability of the TDSB to address under-utilized and under-enrolled schools effectively. These circumstances have prevented us from providing the breadth of programming and opportunities that students deserve and has also created costly operational pressures that take money away from increasing opportunities for students and require us instead to invest inefficiently in under-utilized, aging schools. 

Our understanding of your view is that lifting the moratorium on school closures on a province-wide basis is not possible at this time. With that in mind, we ask that you consider the unique situation of the TDSB and consider granting our board a special exemption allowing us to undertake up to four school consolidation projects per year. 

It is important to note that the TDSB is unlike any other Ontario school board, particularly with respect to scope and size. One of the most significant challenges we face is that we have over 60,000 extra secondary spaces, the vast majority sitting in schools clustered close together in aging buildings, with public transportation available in ways we do not necessarily see in other jurisdictions. These factors allow us the flexibility to reimagine our educational infrastructure to enhance student opportunities through school consolidations.  

This exemption could, for instance, take the form of an application-based business proposal, whereby the TDSB could submit detailed business cases for specific school consolidation and modernization plans.   

We want to assure you that the Board’s school consolidation strategy is not simply about school closures. The Board’s consolidation and modernization plans are designed to improve programming, course options and buildings for students. It would also allow us to address equity of access to programs and course selections - the programming we can offer a student body of 1000 -1200 students is vastly different than one of 400 or 500 students. All students deserve to be in schools that offer comprehensive and rich course options, with a wide variety of co-curriculars and extra-curriculars to match. Our vision for consolidation plans is accompanied by the construction of new schools or major revitalization strategies to replace smaller, ageing, under-utilized and/or under-enrolled schools. And finally, consolidation would allow us to reduce duplication of services, enabling us to be more efficient from both an environmental and financial perspective. This is a win-win for our communities and taxpayers. 


To support the Board’s request, we have attached a primer comparing a well-enrolled school to an under-enrolled secondary school, highlighting the potential benefits of consolidation. Additionally, we have appended the Secondary Program Review report to provide a comprehensive understanding of our strategic vision related to school consolidation. 

As you are aware, with the removal of grade 13 many years ago, the TDSB gained a plethora of open spaces in our secondary schools. Prior to 2015, the Ministry of Education provided “top-up” funding through the School Facilities Operation and Renewal Grant to support under-capacity schools' operation and maintenance. Our board previously received $35.5 million in such funding annually, which was phased out beginning in 2015 and eliminated entirely in 2018.  

In recognition of these challenges, TDSB Trustees passed the Secondary Program Review recommendations in November 2020, aiming to have fewer but larger secondary schools that provide greater access, improved programming, and rich pathways as close to home as possible. These larger neighbourhood schools would also allow for the flexibility to create programs that meet student needs and interests. 

The TDSB has estimated potential operational savings of $585,000 per year for each of the Pupil Accommodation Reviews in the Long-Term Program and Accommodation Plan (LTPAP) associated with each school consolidation project. These potential savings do not include the deferred maintenance that could be eliminated through school consolidations, leading to additional financial benefits. 

Better Opportunities for Students 

Given these circumstances and our commitment to efficient operations and enhanced programming, I strongly urge the Ministry of Education to reconsider the moratorium on school closures or grant the TDSB a special exemption as outlined above.  

I believe these measures will not only allow us to better serve our students and communities across the district, but also help us ensure that limited funding is not propping up aging, under-enrolled schools, but going toward increased opportunities for students in modern schools. And finally, if neither is an option, we would kindly request that you reinstate the top up funding that was previously included in the School Facilities Renewal and Operations grant as this decrease in funding, together with the requirement to keep under-enrolled and under-utilized open places our budget and resources under significant constraint, and leaves students with less than optimal programming. 


Thank you for taking the time to consider our request. As always, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the unique needs of the Toronto District School Board and how we might creatively work together to solve this challenge at your earliest convenience.  



Rachel Chernos Lin 
Chair, Toronto District School Board 


Impact of Low Enrolment on Course Offerings at Secondary Schools

Impact of Low Enrolment on Course Offerings at Secondary Schools

Impact of Low Enrolment on Course Offerings at Secondary Schools