School officials nix classical music as safety-booster

Chopin and Mozart likely won’t be serenading students during washroom breaks or fighting crime in Toronto Catholic school parking lots anytime soon.

According to a Toronto Catholic District School Board report scheduled to be tabled Thursday, school officials have recommended striking down a proposal for piping classical music into certain areas on school property to ease student insecurity and deter crime.

The report cited “current budgetary challenges and the inconclusive evidence that it deters crime in any significant matter” as reasons not to move forward with installing the proper equipment for playing classical music in flagged safety “improvement” areas like school washrooms and parking lots.

“There are other, more inexpensive ways to ensure that students feel safe in different environments, said John Yan, spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the evidence and lack of evidence that’s out there that classical music piped in to bathrooms or parking lots have any effect on behaviour,” he said before Thursday’s board meeting.

Staff estimated adapting paging systems for the classical music initiative would cost more than $3 million for elementary schools, and close to $1.9 million for secondary schools.

Staff had been advised to investigate the feasibility of playing classical music in areas where students feel less secure, after trustee Maria Rizzo proposed the motion at a meeting last fall.

Although most high school students with the Toronto Catholic District School Board reported feeling “very safe or safe” in classrooms in a survey released last year, 22 per cent reported feeling “very unsafe or unsafe” in parking lots. Fewer students —14 per cent — felt that way in washrooms.