Elizabeth Marsh 0

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To the TDSB:

We are the students, teachers, alumni, parents, and friends of the TOPS Program at Marc Garneau CI. Our program is a jewel in the TDSB’s crown. TOPS’ international reputation for excellence brings students from throughout the GTA (and beyond) together to learn, grow, and excel in a collaborative learning environment. The program is currently forced to turn away hundreds of qualified applicants every year. MGCI is a great school, but it is severely overcrowded at nearly 140% of capacity. Moving TOPS would alleviate the overcrowding and allow this successful program to thrive.

If you fail to act, TOPS will not survive. The situation at Garneau is quickly becoming untenable. The TDSB’s own planning report indicates that overcrowding is anticipated to remain a problem for at least 10 years. Core TOPS teachers have delayed retirement to mentor the growth of the program, but unless they are certain that the program will expand in 2012 at a single site, they will leave. Every year we are denied the opportunity to grow, more deserving students are denied the opportunity to participate in this remarkable learning experience.

When we approached the Board about this issue several years ago, their response was to start a second program at Bloor Collegiate. Although this program has its own merits, it shares little with the TOPS Program at Garneau. There has been no decrease in the number of qualified students we have been forced to turn away. Attendance at our information sessions continues to grow. Creating satellite programs is not the solution, at least in the short term. Satellite programs do not address either the overcrowding at MGCI or the need to develop future TOPS teachers. Instead, they leave the TDSB with multiple standalone programs that carry the TOPS name, without the cohesion required to maintain consistent standards, or critical mass to facilitate collaboration.

TOPS needs to move to a school where it can grow. Our teachers will then be able to mentor their successors, students’ needs will be met, a strong foundation will pave the way for future success, and TOPS will continue to shine.

The time for action is upon us. We will not sit idly by watching the demise of the program that has changed all of our lives.

We the undersigned urge the TDSB to move TOPS from Marc Garneau to a single centrally accessible site where it can grow and flourish, by September 2012.

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TOPS Parent Group

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