Change is on the horizon for secondary schools in Scarborough.
Wednesday night the Toronto District School Board passed staff's recommendation to consolidate Bendale Business and Technical Institute and David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute into one school that would be housed in a renovated Bendale.
The recommendations were based on a report done by the accommodation review committee considering what should be done with Bendale, Thomson and Donwood Park Public School.
The committee recommended a kindergarten to Grade 12 campus on the 38-acre property (that also includes Highbrook Learning Centre) with the surplus land to be sold to pay for the new school. Based on costs consideration, staff recommended the board renovate Donwood and change it from a kindergarten to Grade 6 to a K-8 school, while a deep retrofit be undertaken at Bendale.
"It will still be a brand new state of the art facility," said Ward 19 (Scarborough Centre) Trustee Scott Harrison, who initiated the process. "Would it be nice to have a brand new facility? Sure, but we also have to look at the cost to taxpayers."
He said the board will work with the foundation on site to create the best learning facility for students. He cited other examples of deep retrofits that were complete make overs including Cedarbrae Mall and the Royal Ontario Museum.
"When these buildings are done they are brand new facilities," he said.
The site that contains the four schools is bordered by Lawrence, Dorcot and Midland avenues. With Bendale being recommended as the site of the consolidated secondary school, it is likely a portion of land fronting Lawrence Avenue be deemed surplus and sold.
Harrison said this is not the end of the journey, but the beginning of the second part as design work will need to be done, as well as program planning for the new secondary school. More community input will be sought.
"We'll be hosting a couple of community meetings to allow the community to participate in a design charette," he said.
A plan for what would happen during construction would also have to be determined - would students attend Thomson while Bendale is renovated or would another surplus school in the area be used during construction, and what would happen during the construction at Donwood are some of the questions facing the board.
Harrison said it would probably be a year before any shovels hits the ground.
Another secondary school in Scarborough could face closure. A report from the Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute accommodation review committee was also part of Wednesday night's agenda (it will be received as information next week as the board didn't get to it) that recommended the closure of the school.
"These recommendations will now go to the director's office and from there go to the board to vote," said Ward 20 (Scarborough-Agincourt) Trustee Soo Wong, who stressed it is just a recommendation at this point and no decision has been made.
The report also recommended a centre of specialization be created using the existing school facility. It would operate either as a stand alone centre or in a campus relationship with one or more of the seven surrounding collegiates; it would cater primarily to Grade 11 and 12 students.
The ARC process was begun in order to address declining enrolment and to offer the best possible programming to students.