Vertical schools in condos

As the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) explores schools in condos, there is a critical need for people with both the know-how and lived experience of living, working, and playing in a condo.

Dubbed “Vertical Schools”, how many TDSB Trustees have lived in an apartment, condo, or some form of housing that’s more than single-detached?

Have they thought about where are they going to locate these classrooms? Are they all going to be on the ground floor? What about retail and local business?

Okay, so the second or higher floors then. Well, how many of the folks studying this or, more importantly, the TDSB trustees and leadership who will be deciding on the outcome know what it’s like when an elevator or, even worse, multiple elevators break down?

Think of the impact ‎to students. Ask any student who lives in Toronto Community Housing who knows what it’s like to have broken elevators: how has being late for school impacted their grades and education?

What about residents? You forgot something at home that you need for work. It’s the morning rush-hour, only 3 of the 5 elevators are working, and you’re throwing classrooms-worth of students into the mix.

It’s for these reasons, these questions, and more that the late Sheila Ward, TDSB Trustee for Ward 14 – which is most of Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale at the city level if you’re not as familiar with the TDSB wards – will be missed.

She was an innovator who had the foresight to ask the right questions, and the courage to ask the hard questions. Who of the TDSB Trustees will do that now? Who will do that for our downtown Ward 14 in Sheila’s absence?

Whatever the selection process will be to replace Sheila’s big shoes, whether by appointment or by-election, this individual’s impact cannot be understated. He or she will be at the forefront of a new frontier for the TDSB where budgets are tight, schools are built up instead of out, and the stakes could not be higher.