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Advocating for our children

Parents oppose possible school closings

Fabriana Bacchini with her son Gabriel Nikolakakis.

(DAVE ABEL, Toronto Sun)

It’s a surplus the Toronto District School Board can’t afford to sell.

Parents of kids with special needs are ready to make their voices heard at a June 15 planning meeting where the TDSB will look at declaring two Etobicoke properties — Thistletown Multi Service Centre and Silver Creek Pre-School — as surplus and selling them.

“The whole community is wondering why they want to sell it so fast because they were at the bottom of the list (to be sold) for the last three years and then jumped to the top in February,” said Fabriana Bacchini of Silver Creek, the school in the Islington and Eglinton Aves. where her four-year-old son Gabriel attends.

“There’s no other school in the GTA that provides that kind of care to that degree to special needs kids. It provides them with therapy, music therapy and they really prepare kids to go into kindergarten and the school system.”

Advocates have launched a “Save Silver Creek School” Facebook page with over 300 followers.

The two properties are TDSB-owned, but haven’t run as public schools in 30 years, said school board spokesman Ryan Bird.

He added it’s hard to justify keeping the properties when the TDSB has a $3.5-billion maintenance renewal backlog.

The province currently leases the Silver Creek space from the TDSB and the City of Toronto rents out the Thistletown Multi Service Centre, located in Islington Ave.-Albion Rd. area.

“While we believe they are important services, it’s important that the province and city also to have a say, given they control the services that are being offered,” Bird said.

“While we are receiving money from tenants, the fact is we still must maintain these buildings. When we’re trying to keep the heat on and water leaking from the ones currently operating as schools, it’s difficult to put this badly needed money into sites not operating as schools.”

The City said it will reserve discussion on its role in Thistletown for its executive committee meeting later this month.

As for Silver Creek, the province’s ministry of education wouldn’t specify what would happen to this location, but noted it supports providing more opportunities for community organizations to purchase or lease surplus school properties.

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