Dante Alighieri Academy

TCDSB seeks funds for rebuild of Dante Alighieri

  • July 6, 2011

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is looking for a new school building at Dante Alighieri Academy as opposed to the addition the province wants to fund to alleviate overcrowding at the Toronto high school.

The board will be making a business case to the Ontario Ministry of Education this month for additional funding for a new building for students at the current site near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West, said local trustee Maria Rizzo.

The TCDSB is seeking at least $12 million on top of the $16.4 million allocated by the province for an addition so that Dante Alighieri will be able to accommodate all of its 1,300 students at a single site. For years, Rizzo said students have been dispersed over three locations, with the board renting space at Bathurst Heights Secondary School, Sir Sanford Fleming Academy and the Columbus Centre.

“We don't want an addition. It's not going to be enough,” Rizzo said. “In 10 years, we will be in the same boat. We want to build for the future. We want to build one building for all of these kids. It's about time.”

She said an addition would cost as much as a new building if upgrading old systems was taken into account.

According to Angelo Sangiorgio, TCDSB associate director of planning and facilities, an upgrade is needed because Dante Alighieri was built as an elementary school and “was never really constructed as a secondary school.”

“Our preference would be for a new school (but) we would need additional funding,” Sangiorgio said.

The addition plan the government has agreed to fund would consist of adding classrooms to the existing building on Playfair Avenue, eliminating 20 portables.

Sangiorgio said the board will be hiring an architect to develop the vision for a potential partnership. Partners could include Villa Charities and Centro Scuola, which is the educational and cultural arm of the neighbouring Columbus Centre, to build a new school and lead to more programming opportunities for students. The TCDSB already has a longstanding partnership with Centro Scuola through a joint international language and heritage program.

Angela Gauthier, associate director of education, said a potential program from this partnership could be first-hand training for students enrolled in geriatrics and gerontology courses who could volunteer at Villa Colombo, a seniors' home run by Villa Charities across the street from the school.

Another idea being considered is a theatre that would benefit students in Dante's theatre arts program, Gauthier said.

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