MARKHAM – As the nights get cooler and the days get shorter, families are doing their best to get the most out of what’s left of summer break in the GTA. After all, the Labour Day long weekend is already here – and with it, the impending start of the 2013-2014 schoolyear.
Notwithstanding the stress of organizing school supplies and digging out those book bags, it’s normal for parents to have questions about bussing, school zones, and start dates – especially your family is among the many who took advantage of 2013’s strong spring and summer real estate markets and recently moved to a new neighbourhood.
Start off with a deep breath – you can do this! We’re here to help, and we’ve gathered together some of the best info to help you start this school year on the right foot.
Find Your School – Boundaries and New Schools in Your Neighbourhood
If you’re not sure where your kids are supposed to attend school this fall – either because they’re new to the whole thing, or you are a new area resident – there are lots of resources available to help you out. Let us help you get pointed in the right direction.
If you recently bought a home in a brand-new neighbourhood…
If you only recently moved into a newly-constructed home, you should be able to ask your builder for details on area schools.
- Many newly-constructed neighbourhoods also include the development of a new school nearby – ask if this is the case in your subdivision.
- If a neighbourhood school is being constructed, but has not yet been completed, there may be a designated nearby school for your children to attend while construction is completed. Your residential developer should be able to provide the necessary details as to which one.
- If there aren’t any plans for a new school in the area, contact your region’s school board or check their web site.
York Region District School Board offers a helpful New Schools FAQ on how to proceed if there is a new school being built in your neighbourhood.
If you live in an existing neighbourhood in York Region…
York Region District School Board’s excellent School Locator tool lets you input your address information and, based on where you live, will provide you with a list of the schools whose boundaries contain your neighbourhood. The list will include both regular and French-immersion elementary and secondary schools. For each school result, you can click to view a School Profile, or a Boundary Map in conveniently downloadable .PDF format.
If you’re looking for a Catholic School, you need to visit the separate web site for York Region Catholic District School Board. Their own School Locator functions in a similar way, and using the interactive map you can click on any school’s flag icon to get school details.
If you live in an existing neighbourhood elsewhere in the GTA…
Most Greater Toronto school boards offer similar online tools that allow you to figure out your neighbourhood’s school boundaries without breaking a sweat.
- Toronto: Toronto District School Board has a solid Find Your School app. Their Catholic counterpart’s School and Bus Stop Locator is a little bit tougher to find – and at first blush it looks like a bus information tool – but it will also get the job done based on your address info.
- Peel (Mississauga): The Peel District School Board’s Find your School tool, much like York Region’s, is map-based and very simple to use. The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board offers a School Directory tool that isn’t quite as intuitive or visual, but does offer boundary information.
If you have any trouble using the online tools, you can always contact your area’s school board directly by telephone – the number should be listed prominently on their web site.
Registering for a School
After you’ve identified the right school, it’s time to register your kids if this will be their first year attending. The York Region District School Board offers a comprehensive Registration Guide on their website, detailing the steps you’ll need to take. Here’s a brief overview of what’s involved:
- First, you need to contact the school directly and set up a registration appointment. These will require about an hour of your time, and August and September tend to be busy periods – so you will want to get this out of the way quickly. If the school hasn’t opened their offices yet, there may be a Community Education Center or similar resource that will help you with setting up your registration.
- Before the appointment, you will have to fill out a registration form (it will probably look a lot like this one) on behalf of your child, and gather needed documents such as birth certificate and proof of address – ask your regional school board for details on exactly which documentation you will need.
Bus Transportation – Eligibility and Finding Bus Information
Your first question, when it comes to school buses, will probably be whether or not your kids are even eligible to ride one. This depends on your distance from the school. In York Region, for example, students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 are non-eligible for bus transportation if they live within 1.2 kilometres of their school. In Grades 4 to 8, that number increases to 4.8 kilometres if you live in a “transit-served area.”
Those numbers aren’t universal, though – each school board has its own transportation eligibility distances, and ages at which they change. Check the resource pages below for area-specific information:
The Toronto Catholic District School Board offers a free online School Bus Transportation page that provides general facts and information on school bus transportation for parents, motorists, and young students.
If you’re eligible for transportation, some school boards provide online tools (like this one from York Region District School Board) that you can use to retrieve bus stop information – such as stop location and bus arrival times – based on your address. If this information is not provided on your school board’s web site, it may be available when you register.
A Message from the Editors
On behalf of Living Realty Inc., Brokerage, the team here at GTA Real Estate News would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the very best for the 2013-2014 schoolyear. As always we will continue to have a family-centred focus on the site, as well as key info on the area’s top schools in our ongoing Neighbourhood Profile series.