Rocco Rossi Campaign for Mayor

Rocco Rossi Campaign for Mayor

September 08, 2010 11:54 ET

Rossi Pledges to Open Schools to Communities

As Schools Reopen, Mayoral Candidate Will Transform Under-Utilized Schools Into Focal Points of Community Building and Service Delivery

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2010) - With schools back in session and their importance to our communities more evident than ever, Toronto Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi put forth a proposal today to transform under-utilized schools into neighbourhood hubs, delivering programs including intramural athletics, recreational activities, and literacy initiatives.

"We have a surplus of schools and a shortage of community centres," said Rossi. "It makes sense that we transform our under-used schools into spaces for the community. Unfortunately, the attitude at City Hall today is less about making sense and more about spending dollars."

Rossi's plan would take advantage of pre-existing infrastructure to provide a variety of services by re-opening closed schools as community centres and extending the hours of operational schools into the evenings.

"Fiscal responsibility means doing more with what you have," said Rossi. "We have excellent educational facilities that could be used for so much more, but we need the vision at City Hall to take us there."

Building stronger neighbourhoods requires providing gathering places for neighbours, Rossi noted, a role that could be filled by activities and programming within schools.

"Toronto is a great city that has been saddled with a broken City Hall," he said. "We have to return City Hall to Torontonians so that we can come together in our schools and our neighbourhoods and our communities to build a city we can be proud of."

BACKGROUNDER – SCHOOLS AS NEIGHBORHOOD HUBS

Which schools will be used to deliver community services?

Schools which are both under-utilized and well-equipped to deliver community services will be used under Rocco Rossi's plan. Some closed schools will be opened at select times for this purpose while other operational schools will be used in the evenings and on weekends.

The Toronto District School Board has developed a list of 16 schools which could offer "full service" as community centres. These full service schools include Alexander Muir/Gladstone Ave Public School, Chester Le Public School, Dixon Grove Public School, Duke of Connaught Public School, Elmbank Public School, Lambton Park Public School, Mason Rd. Public School, Pineway Public School, Joseph Brant Middle School, Oakdale Park Middle School, Bendale Public School, Central Tech Public School, Lester B. Pearson Public School, Monarch Park Public School, Northview Heights Public School, and Westview Centennial Public School.

How will these school-based community centres serve my family and neighbourhood?

School-based community centres will offer a one-stop shop for local residents to access community services. After-school programs, social services, health services, recreation programs, athletic leagues, arts programs, childcare, and adult education are all examples of services which could be offered through school-based community centres.

Beyond delivering services, these community centres will increase local property values, create jobs, and bring together neighbourhoods.

How will we pay to establish school-based community centres?

Rocco Rossi will use his experience developing consensus and building partnerships to establish school-based community centres. We need to bring together the Toronto District School Board and Catholic school boards along with the Provincial government, community organizations, Business Improvement Associations, and relevant city departments to create an acceptable and effective arrangement.

Precise financial agreements will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis and may include partnership lease agreements or the purchase of land and buildings.

Why has this not been done already?

An initiative which involves so many different organizations and levels of government requires a mayor who has experience building consensus and developing partnerships. The different organizations and departments which would be involved in this project have not co-operated in the past because they have not had an effective central source of co-ordination.

Rocco Rossi has the experience required to bring together the Toronto District School Board, Catholic School Board, City Department of Parks & Recreation, and the province to succeed where others have not in making school-based community centres a reality.

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