UNCOUNTED ADULTS                   TORONTO'S "UNDER-UTILIZED" SCHOOLS                                     by Graham Hollings

originally published in the 2015 Spring Issue

Recent news stories reporting that Toronto public schools are “under-utilized” paint a wildly inaccurate picture. The provincial formula for determining the utilization rates of our schools does not count tens of thousands of people who are attending educational programs in our schools, mostly during the regular school day.


The majority of these uncounted learners are adults. As a result, many schools with supposedly low utilization rates are far less empty than the current numbers suggest. The provincial government often talks about – or, at least, used to talk about – the ideal of “schools as community hubs”. In this context, it is ironic that it is the provincial formula (for determining school utilization rates) that makes many schools – including some great community hubs – appear under-utilized. Compounding this irony, many of the programs with uncounted participants are actually funded by the provincial government. The system seems to be working against itself.  There is a lot at stake here, schools are at the heart of our communities. Losing a school, through school closures, means a lot more than losing “a building”.


Who is not counted? The following Toronto District School Board (TDSB) programs, with numbers from the 2013-2014 school year, are not captured by the current formula for determining school utilization rates:

  • Adult English as a Second Language, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration: 20,000 adult learners 
  • Parenting & Family Literacy Centres in 78 TDSB schools, funded by the Ministry of Education: 14,000 pre-school children plus their parents/caregivers
  • Adult (High School) Credit, funded by the Ministry of Education: 12,000 adult learners (over the age of 21)
  • Essential Skills Upgrading (Adult Literacy), funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities: 2,600 adult learners
  • General Interest/Seniors’ Daytime (fee-for-service; no external funding): 30,000 adult learners (primarily in evening courses)

Many of the 130 schools on a recent list of “under-utilized” TDSB schools – schools that are supposedly at 65%-or-less capacity – have programs that serve hundreds of uncounted learners. Here are just a few examples:

  • John Polanyi Collegiate, near Bathurst and Lawrence, is listed at 46% capacity, with 650 students. However, the school also accommodates the Bathurst Heights Adult ESL program, a program that uses a huge separate wing of the school. If you count the adults, the school is full.
  • Charles G Fraser Junior Public School and Alexander Muir/Gladstone Junior and Senior School, both in downtown Toronto, accommodate both Parenting and Family Literacy Centres and Adult ESL classes. Again, the hundreds of participants in these valuable daytime programs are not counted in determining school utilization rates.
  • Stanley Public School, near Jane and Finch, is considered half empty. In a separate wing, Stanley PS accommodates one of the few Adult ESL programs in the area. This daytime TDSB program provides a vital educational opportunity to adult learners, many of them parents, who live in the neighbourhood.

The province should start counting adult learners. The provincial formula for determining school utilization rates needs to be changed so that it accurately reflects the actual number of people using our schools. We would all like to see more “schools as community hubs”. The provincial government should be helping to realize that goal, not working against us – and against itself. Graham Hollings is an adult educator with the Toronto District School Board

SCHOOL UTILIZATION STATISTICS

JK-12

Utilization

Rate (2014)

School Name                                            

Uncounted

Programs            

61%  Alexander Muir/Gladstone Ave Junior and Senior Public School  PTG, ADULT ESL, ILE (INT)
49%  
Avondale Alternative Secondary School
ILE
40%  
Bendale Business and Technical Institute
ESU (4+), GI
45%  
Blake Street Junior Public School
ILE, PTG
59% 
 Braeburn Junior Public School*
ILE 
65% 
Brock Public School 
ILE (INT) 
48%  
Bruce Junior Public School 
PTG, ESL, ILE
35% 
 Burhamthorpe Collegiate Institute
ESU (3+), ESL (4+), GI
 59%  
Calico Public School
ILE 
2% 
Caring and Safe School Area A (30 Barrhead, Multi-Use Centre) REXDALE ADULT LNG CTR 
LINC 
 4% 
Caring and Safe School Area C (SCAS, Adult Day School)
GI
36% 
 Caring and Safe School Area D (Terraview Heights Multi-Use Centre) TERRAVIEW ALC
ESL (4), ESU (4+) 
 46% 
 Carleton Village Junior and Senior Sports and Wellness Academy
ILE, PTG 
58%  
Central Technical School
GI
51%   
Charles G Fraser Junior Public School
PTG, ESL, ILE
63% 
Charles H Best Middle School* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
 ILE
 59%   
Chester Le Junior Public School
PTG
 62% 
Cresthaven Public School
 ILE
44%   
Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute (part of an ARC, 2014-15)
GI
59%  
Dennis Avenue Community School* 
PTG
61%   
Donview Middle Health and Wellness Academy
ILE
53%   
Dundas Junior Public School
PTG, ILE
56% 
Elmbank Junior Middle Academy 
PTG , ILE 
45%   
Emery Collegiate Institute
ESU (1), ESL (2)
35%  
 Ernest Public School
ILE
59%  
Essex Junior and Senior Public School
PTG, ILE 
35%
Fairbank Memorial Community School* 
 PTG 
28%   
Fisherville Senior Public School
ESL
44%   
Flemington Public School
PTG, ILE
51%   
General Mercer Junior Public School*
PTG, ILE
41%   
George Harvey Collegiate Institute* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
ESU (3)
60% 
George Syme Community School* 
ESL, ILE
0% 
Gooderham Adult Learning Centre (1 of 9 schools "to be considered for disposition") 
ESL 
54% 
Greenholme Junior Middle School
 ILE 
59%   
Guildwood Junior Public School*
NYAD
60%  
Henry Kelsey Senior Public School 
ILE
55% 
Highland Heights Junior Public School* (part of an ARC 2015-16) 
PTG
 62%  
J R Wilcox Community School 
PTG, ILE
46%   

John Polanyi Collegiate Institute* (part of an ARC 2015-16)

King Edward JPS (ARC 2015-16) 

ESL (10+), ESU (1)

ILE (INT) 

25%   
Kensington Community School* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
ILE(INT), ESL (2)
50%  
Lescon Public School ILE Lord Lansdowne JSPS (ARC 2015-16) 
ILE (INT)
64%
 Maple Leaf Public School 
PTG, ILE
53%  
Melody Village Junior School
 ILE
41%   
Nelson Mandela Park Public School
PTG
53%   
Oakwood Collegiate Institute* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
ESU (1)
56%   
Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School
PTG, ILE
64%  
Pauline Johnson Junior Public School* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
ILE (INT), PTG 
64%  
Pineway Public School
 ILE
51%  
Queen Alexandra Middle School 
ESL
58%
Rene Gordon Health and Wellness Academy 
ILE
61%  
Roden Public School
 PTG, ILE
53%   
Ryerson Community School* (part of an ARC 2015-16)
ILE(INT), PTG
32% 
Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies 
GI 
21% 
School of Experiential Education
 ESL (3+), ESU (2+) 
64%   
Sheppard Public School
PTG, ILE
58%   
Shoreham Public Sports and Wellness Academy
PTG
56%  
Silverthorn Community School* 
PTG
52%  
Stanley Public School 
ESL (3+ rooms)
49%  
The Elms Junior middle School*
PTG, ILE
55%  
Thistletown Collegiate Institute
ESL (3), ESU (2), GI
55%   
Twentieth Street Junior School
PTG
48%  
West End Alternative School (BICKFORD)
ESL (10+), ESU (4+), GI 
54%  
West Hill Collegiate Institute* (part of an ARC 2014-15)
 ESL (3)
65%  
Westview Centennial Secondary School
 ESL (4)
49% 
Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute 
ESL (6+), GI
48%   
Woodbine Junior High School
ILE
41% 
Yorkdale Secondary School 
ESU (1)



* ADULT PROGRAMS

  • ESL = English as a Second Language
  • ESU = Employability Skills Upgrading (formerly Literacy Basic Skills)
  • GI = General Interest
  • ILE/ILE (Int) = International Languages Education
  • LINC = Language Instruction for New Comers
  • NYAD = Not Your Average Day Care
  • PTG = Parent Teacher 

Toronto, Canada