Mary Ihasz and her kids are on the short end of a numbers game.
In the face of declining enrolment, the Durham Catholic District School Board is calling for the closing of Father Francis Mahoney, where the three Ihasz children go, and five other elementary schools near Highway 401 in an older area of Oshawa. The nearly 700 students in those schools would be sent to five nearby schools starting next fall.
Last week, trustees at the Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest, approved a plan that could see dozens of small and under-enrolled schools close in the next few years to deal with losing 4,000 students annually.
Even in the 905 area around Toronto, where enrolment and the number of schools is increasing to handle growth from new subdivisions, aging households in older parts of communities such as Oshawa, Brampton, Oakville and Richmond Hill mean schools are on the chopping block.
Yesterday, the lobby group People for Education released a report calling declining enrolment the “elephant in the room.” It said 52 schools have already been recommended for closure across Ontario, part of nearly 300 that are under review. Boards are sure to call for many more of the province’s 4,900 elementary and secondary schools to be shuttered, it said.
“We have to work together to make sure that boards can plan for the students who are in their schools, rather than for the buildings that they own,” Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said in an interview yesterday. “It’s not just us saying it, it’s everyone in the system saying we have to have a conversation about these changes.”
A final decision is set for May 26.