Mixed start for all-day kindergarten

Construction delays could leave staff at three local schools juggling for class space when they start full-day kindergarten in September.

All the kindergarten students will start at their schools on time.

But at Adam Beck, those students may have to use an alternative class in first few weeks, said local TDSB trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher.

Kindergarteners at Williamson Road could face a similar, likely shorter delay, before they move into their final class.

Construction delays will also affect two of the three kindergarten classes starting at St. John Catholic School, said local TCDSB trustee Angela Kennedy. The affected students will use the school library until Sept. 12, when renovations to their final classrooma should be finished.

Cary-Meagher said 10 of the 16 schools in the local TDSB ward had to add full-day kindergarten this fall to meet a provincial deadline.

“Some were relatively simple, and at others we ran into just goofy problems,” she said. “Alongside of that, we’re doing the solar panels and roof replacements, so we’ve been stretched to the Nth degree.”

At Adam Beck, crews are behind in adding two new classes and finishing renovations to a third that involved tearing down a wall and adding a door to the yard. Administrators are already planning to shuffle existing space to make room.

“They’ve known for two or three weeks that the Plan B was going to be absolutely essential,” said Cary-Meagher.

At Williamson Road, a school that turns 100 this year, renovations for one class were slowed because of asbestos in the walls. The material was commonly used as a fire retardant in Canada before its harmful respiratory effects were better known.

“Often the plaster contains asbestos, so when you need to knock out big chunks of plaster there is a lot of clean-up and remediation that has to take place,” said Cary-Meagher.

“It pushed us behind.”

Administrators at Williamson are preparing an alternate class as a precaution, she said. The clean-up is nearly done, and the class could be ready for a Sept. 2 start after all.

At St. John’s, trustee Angela Kennedy said the only remaining construction work involves washrooms and storage cubbies in two of the classes being renovated for kindergarten.

Kindergarten students at St. Denis, which has a newly renovated kindergarten class on its main floor, will start as planned, said Kennedy. Children in the class will have exclusive use of a playground on the school’s north side, she added.

Delays aside, Cary-Meagher said full-day kindergarten registrations are strong across the ward. Numbers are high enough at Norway Public that the school may open an extra kindergarten class, which is ready to go and just needs a teacher.

“There’s time in the first few weeks for reorganization,” she said. “Nobody likes doing it, but with the cap on class size and that sort of thing you have to plan for it.”

Overall, Cary-Meagher said she and her colleagues are pleased about the final settling-in of the program, which started rolling out five years ago.

“I’m a big fan of all-day kindergarten, particularly in the inner-city schools,” she said. “It really helps those kids catch up.”


This story has been updated to include news of the full-day kindergarten programs at St. John and St. Denis, which was unavailable by press time for the August 26 print edition of Beach Metro News.

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