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We need $867M, and 10,000 spare keys

If you think getting a spare key cut for your side door is a pain, imagine having to make 10,000 extra.

That’s exactly what the Thames Valley District school board is doing, Southwestern Ontario’s largest school board will spend $430,000 to make extra keys for doors to classrooms, libraries and gyms in 180 buildings across its system.

Not the biggest chunk of change in the board’s $867-million budget approved last week, the key money still stands out as something of an oddity.

“Imagine rekeying — creating a duplicate for every single door in every school,” said Jeff Pratt, the board’s treasurer.

Officials say the move is required by Ontario’s Ministry of Education.

During contract talks between the province, teachers’ unions and school boards, a deal was struck that occasional teachers must be given a key to the room they’re in, in the event of an emergency ­“lockdown” ­situation, said Laura Elliott, the Thames Valley board’s education director.

A lockdown occurs when there’s a threat of violence at the school or in the neighbourhood.

That means a spare key had to be cut for every “learning room” in the system for when a replacement teacher is needed, and returned at the end of the day.

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