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Catholic board votes to close French immersion school

The Toronto Catholic District School Board decided Wednesday night to close a French immersion elementary school that happens to sit on a valuable piece of land.

The doors of St. Cyril Catholic School will shutter in June of 2013 and its approximately 400 students will amalgamate with St. Antoine Daniel, an English school three blocks away in the Yonge and Finch area.

It's been a controversial process, outraging many parents who accuse the school board of closing the high-performing school in part because the land it sits on is worth about $14-million. The proposed new school, which will undergo a cost-analysis, would house about 725 students, but is too large for students to be taught attentively, says parent Catia Creatura-Amelio.

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"I can tell you we're highly disappointed," she said after the meeting Wednesday night, where the Catholic School Advisory Committee she is a part of made presentations opposing the board's decision.

The CSAC had long been fighting for the school to remain open. She said it does not make sense that St. Cyril would close while nearby St. Edwards, an English school with 200 students, will get a new building in 2012.

Maria Rizzo, trustee for Ward 5 Willowdale which includes the schools, said St. Edward's has needed a new school for 20 years and the government granted funds because it is in the development area of the Yonge-Finch corridor.

She says St. Cyril's needs to close because it is in the middle of a condo redevelopment area and does not have enough space to accommodate more students in the future.

"It has portables, no green space," she said, adding that the building is old and run-down, deeming it no longer viable.

"Most Willowdale children are in old dilapidated buildings and we're having new schools built for the student population of today and tomorrow. Now everyone should be happy. Not everyone is."

Board supervisor Richard Alway announced the decision at the meeting Wednesday night, and said all the evidence had been considered.

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Parents plan to appeal the decision and raise a complaint about the process to the Ministry of Education.

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