East York students use art to protest frozen school funding

News Apr 19, 2013 by Tara Hatherly East York Mirror

Instead of wish you were here, wish we were here was the message on 1,200 postcards East York students sent to the Toronto District School Board and the Minister of Education.

On each postcard was the message “Wish we were here” followed by hand-drawn illustrations of what students wished their schools looked like. The bottom of each postcard said, “Release our funds! It’s our turn!”

The postcards were made by 1,200 students from Secord Public School and George Webster Elementary School, on behalf of their own schools, as well as three other East York schools – Parkside Elementary School, D.A. Morrison Middle School and Crescent Town Public School.

Parents have been fighting for funding for the five schools, which the say are overcrowded and laden with decaying, raccoon-infested portables, among other health and structural concerns.

Parents and students delivered the postcards to the TDSB headquarters last week, where they were met by Ralph Benson and Bill Hogarth.

Benson and Hogarth, liaisons between the province and TDSB, said they would forward the postcards to Minister of Education Liz Sandals.

“It was very polite, and our messages were received graciously, (but) we still continue to feel frustrated with the lack of accountability from anyone,” said Heather Tormey, a parent from Secord Public School, after the meeting, adding Benson and Hogarth did not comment directly on the postcards.

“We didn’t get any clear answers or clear commitments. We weren’t really expecting them either, but we didn’t get any, and we hope that somebody eventually has some answers for us.”

Tormey said her group received the same message it’s been getting all along – the TDSB says it’s up to the province to release funding for the schools, and the province says it’s up to the TDSB to find the money.

“We still continue to feel that these East York schools are still stuck in the middle,” she said. “Nobody’s able to give us clear direction on when we can expect an answer.”

Benson and Hogarth were addressed by Grade 1 and Grade 5 students from George Webster and Secord.

“They were able to bring a real sense of what they feel day-to-day, and how inadequate classrooms really affect them,” said Tormey.

“I think that our message was heard, which is, these facilities really need to be addressed.”

East York parents watched in frustration as $70 million in previously approved funding for the schools was frozen, while funding announcements for renovations and additions at other Toronto schools have continued.

Additionally, Tormey explained a ministry-mandated review process was completed last spring for Secord, Parkside and D.A. Morrison schools, which concluded that Parkside should close to free up funding for the other two schools. Since the completion of the review, she said the TDSB has refused to put it to a final vote.

“We have a solution there, we’re following what everybody wants, yet nobody’s making any decisions to move forward,” she said.

“It’s being stalled at the TDSB, they’re saying that everything is on hold because the province has put the capital freeze, and the provincial team says until the TDSB makes these hard decisions in how to go about (finding funds), nothing’s moving.”

Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis and Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue have also appealed to the TDSB and province respectively in support of the group, which has also received public support from TDSB trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher.

Group members have delivered petitions and addresses to the TDSB, and held a public rally.

The group will continue its fight, said Tormey.

“Our goal is to continue to make sure that these five East York schools are heard and identified as priorities,” she said. “We hope that the TDSB moves us all forward as priorities, and that if they don’t, that the provincial team and the Province is asking why these schools are not being identified as priorities.”

East York students use art to protest frozen school funding

Message delivered to public school board, province

News Apr 19, 2013 by Tara Hatherly East York Mirror

Instead of wish you were here, wish we were here was the message on 1,200 postcards East York students sent to the Toronto District School Board and the Minister of Education.

On each postcard was the message “Wish we were here” followed by hand-drawn illustrations of what students wished their schools looked like. The bottom of each postcard said, “Release our funds! It’s our turn!”

The postcards were made by 1,200 students from Secord Public School and George Webster Elementary School, on behalf of their own schools, as well as three other East York schools – Parkside Elementary School, D.A. Morrison Middle School and Crescent Town Public School.

Parents have been fighting for funding for the five schools, which the say are overcrowded and laden with decaying, raccoon-infested portables, among other health and structural concerns.

Parents and students delivered the postcards to the TDSB headquarters last week, where they were met by Ralph Benson and Bill Hogarth.

Benson and Hogarth, liaisons between the province and TDSB, said they would forward the postcards to Minister of Education Liz Sandals.

“It was very polite, and our messages were received graciously, (but) we still continue to feel frustrated with the lack of accountability from anyone,” said Heather Tormey, a parent from Secord Public School, after the meeting, adding Benson and Hogarth did not comment directly on the postcards.

“We didn’t get any clear answers or clear commitments. We weren’t really expecting them either, but we didn’t get any, and we hope that somebody eventually has some answers for us.”

Tormey said her group received the same message it’s been getting all along – the TDSB says it’s up to the province to release funding for the schools, and the province says it’s up to the TDSB to find the money.

“We still continue to feel that these East York schools are still stuck in the middle,” she said. “Nobody’s able to give us clear direction on when we can expect an answer.”

Benson and Hogarth were addressed by Grade 1 and Grade 5 students from George Webster and Secord.

“They were able to bring a real sense of what they feel day-to-day, and how inadequate classrooms really affect them,” said Tormey.

“I think that our message was heard, which is, these facilities really need to be addressed.”

East York parents watched in frustration as $70 million in previously approved funding for the schools was frozen, while funding announcements for renovations and additions at other Toronto schools have continued.

Additionally, Tormey explained a ministry-mandated review process was completed last spring for Secord, Parkside and D.A. Morrison schools, which concluded that Parkside should close to free up funding for the other two schools. Since the completion of the review, she said the TDSB has refused to put it to a final vote.

“We have a solution there, we’re following what everybody wants, yet nobody’s making any decisions to move forward,” she said.

“It’s being stalled at the TDSB, they’re saying that everything is on hold because the province has put the capital freeze, and the provincial team says until the TDSB makes these hard decisions in how to go about (finding funds), nothing’s moving.”

Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis and Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue have also appealed to the TDSB and province respectively in support of the group, which has also received public support from TDSB trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher.

Group members have delivered petitions and addresses to the TDSB, and held a public rally.

The group will continue its fight, said Tormey.

“Our goal is to continue to make sure that these five East York schools are heard and identified as priorities,” she said. “We hope that the TDSB moves us all forward as priorities, and that if they don’t, that the provincial team and the Province is asking why these schools are not being identified as priorities.”

East York students use art to protest frozen school funding

Message delivered to public school board, province

News Apr 19, 2013 by Tara Hatherly East York Mirror

Instead of wish you were here, wish we were here was the message on 1,200 postcards East York students sent to the Toronto District School Board and the Minister of Education.

On each postcard was the message “Wish we were here” followed by hand-drawn illustrations of what students wished their schools looked like. The bottom of each postcard said, “Release our funds! It’s our turn!”

The postcards were made by 1,200 students from Secord Public School and George Webster Elementary School, on behalf of their own schools, as well as three other East York schools – Parkside Elementary School, D.A. Morrison Middle School and Crescent Town Public School.

Parents have been fighting for funding for the five schools, which the say are overcrowded and laden with decaying, raccoon-infested portables, among other health and structural concerns.

Parents and students delivered the postcards to the TDSB headquarters last week, where they were met by Ralph Benson and Bill Hogarth.

Benson and Hogarth, liaisons between the province and TDSB, said they would forward the postcards to Minister of Education Liz Sandals.

“It was very polite, and our messages were received graciously, (but) we still continue to feel frustrated with the lack of accountability from anyone,” said Heather Tormey, a parent from Secord Public School, after the meeting, adding Benson and Hogarth did not comment directly on the postcards.

“We didn’t get any clear answers or clear commitments. We weren’t really expecting them either, but we didn’t get any, and we hope that somebody eventually has some answers for us.”

Tormey said her group received the same message it’s been getting all along – the TDSB says it’s up to the province to release funding for the schools, and the province says it’s up to the TDSB to find the money.

“We still continue to feel that these East York schools are still stuck in the middle,” she said. “Nobody’s able to give us clear direction on when we can expect an answer.”

Benson and Hogarth were addressed by Grade 1 and Grade 5 students from George Webster and Secord.

“They were able to bring a real sense of what they feel day-to-day, and how inadequate classrooms really affect them,” said Tormey.

“I think that our message was heard, which is, these facilities really need to be addressed.”

East York parents watched in frustration as $70 million in previously approved funding for the schools was frozen, while funding announcements for renovations and additions at other Toronto schools have continued.

Additionally, Tormey explained a ministry-mandated review process was completed last spring for Secord, Parkside and D.A. Morrison schools, which concluded that Parkside should close to free up funding for the other two schools. Since the completion of the review, she said the TDSB has refused to put it to a final vote.

“We have a solution there, we’re following what everybody wants, yet nobody’s making any decisions to move forward,” she said.

“It’s being stalled at the TDSB, they’re saying that everything is on hold because the province has put the capital freeze, and the provincial team says until the TDSB makes these hard decisions in how to go about (finding funds), nothing’s moving.”

Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis and Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue have also appealed to the TDSB and province respectively in support of the group, which has also received public support from TDSB trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher.

Group members have delivered petitions and addresses to the TDSB, and held a public rally.

The group will continue its fight, said Tormey.

“Our goal is to continue to make sure that these five East York schools are heard and identified as priorities,” she said. “We hope that the TDSB moves us all forward as priorities, and that if they don’t, that the provincial team and the Province is asking why these schools are not being identified as priorities.”