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TDSB seeks additional $2.4-million for Swansea after discovery of contaminated soil

The Toronto District School Board is looking to spend an additional $2.4-million to expand Swansea Junior and Senior Public School after discovering an issue with soil contamination.

Trustees will review a staff recommendation at their Wednesday meeting that the money, subject to approval by the provincial government, come from the capital reserve fund. The Ministry of Education previously approved $8.7-million be used to expand Swansea so the school can accommodate 371 additional students.

A provincial report this summer identified the Swansea project as one that requires monitoring. Cost overruns have plagued the TDSB. Canada's largest school board has faced widespread criticism for the way it spends on construction projects, and a $10-million budget overrun at Nelson Mandela Park Public School prompted the Ontario government to cut off funding for new TDSB building projects last October. That funding was restored in exchange for trustees promising to sell off unused school land.

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Issues with soil contamination were discovered at Swansea. Angelos Bacopoulos, chief facilities officer with the board, said the additional money is needed to build the addition, bring the old part of the building up to modern day standards and "to deal with some of the minor soil contamination found on the site."

At Wednesday's board meeting, trustees are also expected to select Donna Quan, the TDSB's former deputy director, as the new director. Her appointment follows the abrupt departure of Chris Spence in January, who resigned after allegations of plagiarism pertaining to everything from his personal blog to newspaper opinion pieces began piling up.

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Education Reporter

Caroline Alphonso is an education reporter for The Globe and Mail. More

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