Amid budget cuts, beloved ArtsJunktion will open its doors again, TDSB says

A space that's been supplying teachers and others in the community with items for crafts and projects has been closed since school began this year, but the Toronto District School board says it will reopen on Oct. 7.

Space at Ossington/Old Orchard Public School to reopen Oct. 7 after staff member was laid off

ArtsJunktion's space is in Ossington/Old Orchard Public School. The program has been in operation for more than 30 years. (Google Maps)

A roomful of lone buttons, cardboard scraps and other miscellaneous materials may look like trash to some, but for the teachers and community members who visited ArtsJunktion on a regular basis — it was a space full of treasures.

The beloved program run by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has been closed since classes started in September. But the board has announced it's not closed for good, even though the one staff position dedicated to overseeing it has been cut.

ArtsJunktion offers an assortment of crafty items that teachers often use for projects and lessons. The depot collects materials from hundreds of companies and individuals in Toronto and surrounding areas.

Cayla Hochberg, a special education teacher at the TDSB, says her students use materials from ArtsJunktion for set design, assignments and arts and crafts. (Submitted/Cayla Hochberg)

Cayla Hochberg, a Grade 7 teacher at King Edward Junior and Senior Public School, says she's been using the program for 15 years and that many teachers were upset when they first thought it was gone.

"I would go there and get extra binders for kids who couldn't afford them or if they lost them," she said.

She adds that she would pick up materials when her students were putting on a play and would use them for set design. 

"I pretty much used it for every subject."

Hochberg says losing the staff member who was in charge of the program for years is like "losing the historian or curator of a museum."

Space reopens Oct. 7

Ryan Bird, the spokesperson for the TDSB, says the program is being taken over by the board's sustainability office. He says it will remain in the location at Ossington/Old Orchard Public School on Ossington Avenue just south of College Street.

"We know teachers use it, we know students benefit from it, so that's why instead of cancelling the program outright,  we wanted to look at how can we still deliver this and still attain budget reductions we needed to get to."

ArtsJunktion will open its doors again on Oct. 7. The new hours will be Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.