The Toronto school board is considering the launch of four all-boy schools, four all-girl schools and four choir schools next year — one in each corner of the city.

Each should start as a “school within a school,” not a free-standing entity, board staff suggests.
But four proposed sports academies would be schools in their own right, staff recommends. The sports academies are not meant for elite young athletes, but would centre on physical activity.

“A focus on healthy, active living has a broad enough base in the curriculum for all kids in a school,” whereas a public neighbourhood grade school can’t serve just boys or just girls or a group as specific as choral students,” said Karen Grose, superintendent of innovative programs for the Toronto District School Board.

“But as a sports academy, a school might want to focus on fitness and, say, three sports — maybe cricket, basketball and yoga — while another would pick entirely different ones,” said Grose. “The idea is to provide flexibility.”

Grose is part of a team studying the feasibility of elementary “programs of choice” proposed by education director Chris Spence as a way to appeal to diverse student interests and needs.

The appeal of specialty boutique-style schools is also meant to stem the loss of some 4,000 students each year to falling birth rates and the 905.

While Spence originally proposed launching one school of each type next September, trustees voted this spring to consider one in each quadrant of the city to ensure families in all neighbourhoods have access.

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