Toronto approves 2nd Africentric school

Toronto District School Board trustees have approved the city's second Africentric school, this time for high school students.

Trustees OK high school 2 years after elementary school opened

Toronto District School Board trustees on Wednesday approved the city's second Africentric school, this time for high school students.

Cheers erupted in the packed public gallery after the controversial motion for the high school for black students passed 14-6.

"It's a great opportunity to serve our students and that's what this has always been about," said the board's education director, Chris Spence. "You know, how do we think outside the box and support our students the best way we can."

An Africentric elementary school opened in Toronto in September 2009. (Canadian Press)

Spence said data from Toronto's Africentric elementary school, which opened in September 2009, suggests the board is taking the right approach.

Students in that school have produced above-average provincial test scores and there is a wait list to get in.

Trustee Shaun Chen said an Africentric high school is the next step in addressing the 40 per cent dropout rate among black students.

"The disengagement that the students in the black community are facing in our regular schools does not stop in Grade 8," he said.

Could open in 2012

But trustee Gerri Gershon said dividing children according to ethnicity isn't the way forward.

"I can't in good conscience support a school where kids are separated from one another," Gershon said.

The Africentric high school is expected to open in the fall 2012 or 2013, but the TDSB has not chosen a specific site.

The board suggested using Oakwood Collegiate Institute in March, but the move met with resistance from the west-end community.

The TDSB said it is looking at several sites and will engage in plenty of public consultation before making a decision.