Supporters of keeping a school at Lorne Ave PS can celebrate a small victory after the school board meeting of Tuesday, Nov 26, but there’s some hard work still ahead.  That’s the message the OEVCA sent out to its membership last week. 
After rallying on the lawn at the TVDSB offices Tuesday, Nov 26, Lorne Ave parents and supporters filled the gallery while school board trustees debated the future of the school.  


The trustees voted in favour of a motion that the "excess" part of the school -- the parts not needed for schoolchildren and day care -- be declared “surplus” and be offered to preferred partners for sale or lease. Potential partners are described i n a provincial regulation (444/98) and include organizations that can use the space for school-like purposes: the city, any nearby university or college, and all other school boards.   


Further, the trustees voted to consider offers made by April 30, 2014. After that deadline, they'll vote on them (or on closing the school) May 13, 2014. In short, they voted themselves an extension before having to decide what to do about Lorne Ave. 


What does that mean? A. The parts we can celebrate, i.e., what's new? 1) We now know what to offer potential partners. According to provincial legislation, the school board should have done this in 2010, before striking the Accommodation Review Committee.  Because they didn't, community leaders were left to find partners for a building that was already full and not really ours to rent or sell.  Now we know what's available and what we can offer to potential partners. This will help. 2) The school board and the community are finally on the same side, with one common goal:  to find a way that Lorne Ave can be neighbourhood school with a closer match of population and building size. It appears that the trustees are impressed by the quality of the proposals made so far and don't want to close the school any time before they're forced to. 


B. The hard work ahead, i.e., what stays the same? 1) The "ticking clock."  Time and commitment are still a big deal. The school board staff is going ahead with plans to close the school. If no new partnership is approved May 13, 2014, the board will apply for the money to renovate Bishop Townshend and move Lorne Ave kids there in September 2015. 2) A team of community leaders is still working to broker a deal with potential partners. Proposals on the table include a "Centre of Excellence" anchored by the Aeolian Hall's El Sistema orchestra program and an "International Study Centre" for middle school students from overseas.  What's going to make this happen?  Well, now that the school board is offering the space to the city, Mayor Joe Fontana has taken a leadership role.  He's already been a big booster and spoke twice during public input sessions as a member of the Old East Economic Advisory Group. Now that he's leading the charge, Lorne Ave's becoming the city-wide issue we always knew it should be. 

 
The OEVCA continues to take an active role in saving Lorne Ave PS, and we'll we hope we can share some more good news soon. 


For more information about saving Lorne Ave PS visit www.savelorneave.ca.

For important dates and events, check the Community Calendar at www.oevca.ca.