On June 27, 2016, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter announced an investment of $1.1-billion to repair schools across the province. Here is a breakdown of how this investment will flow to school boards.
- An increase of $500-million to school boards to use for school repairs this summer; $460-million of the $500-million total will be allocated via School Condition Improvement (SCI) funding* and $40-million will be allocated via School Renewal Allocation (SRA) funding**. When added to the existing funding commitment of $500-million in SCI funding and $320-million in SRA funding, the total funding for school repairs this 2015/16 year will total $1.3-billion.
- An increase of $575-million to school boards to use for school repairs in 2016/17; $535-million of which will be allocated via SCI funding and $40-million of which will be allocated via SRA funding. When added to the commitment of $500-million in SCI funding and $320-million in SRA funding, the total funding for school boards to use for school repairs next year in 2016/17 will be the $1.4-billion annual funding that Ontario’s Auditor-General said is needed to keep Ontario’s publicly funded schools in a state of good repair.
Fix Our Schools is pleased that this new level of annual funding for school repairs follows the Auditor General’s 2015 recommendation of $1.4-billion per year, an amount that represents an industry standard of investing 2.5% of a buildings replacement value in annual maintenance in order to keep that asset in a state of good repair.
Fix Our Schools is also pleased that this money is being allocated to school boards based on their renewal needs and that the provincial government has committed to publicly posting detailed information regarding the condition and renewal needs of each of Ontario’s 4,900 public schools.
However, a $15-billion repair backlog has been allowed to accumulate in Ontario’s publicly funded schools over the past 20 years that is not going away anytime soon. Therefore, Fix Our Schools remains committed to working with all MPPs and School Boards to ensure that:
- The new level of investment of $1.4-billion/year starts to decrease the $15-billion repair backlog that currently exists in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.
- The issue of disrepair in Ontario’s schools is a major election issue in the next provincial election in 2018; and continues to be an important focus of our provincial government.
* SCI funding, as explained on pages 127-28 in the Education Funding Technical Paper, 2016-17:
In 2016-17, School Condition Improvement (SCI) funding will remain at $500 million. The 2016–17 funding represents the third year of the $1.25 billion investment announced in memorandum 2014:B4 – Grants for Student Needs Funding and Regulations for 2014–15.This funding is intended to help boards address the identified renewal backlog from the data collected to date through the Ministry’s five-year Condition Assessment Program, which began in 2011.
Beginning in 2015–16, the Ministry changed the funding approach for SCI. SCI funding is now allocated in proportion to a board’s total assessed renewal needs under the Ministry’s Condition Assessment Program.
School boards are required to direct 80 percent of SCI funding to key building components (for example, foundations, roofs, windows) and systems (for example, HVAC and plumbing). School boards are allowed to use the remaining 20 percent of their new SCI funding to address any locally-identified renewal needs that are listed in the VFA.facility database. School boards have the flexibility to prioritize schools and individual components and systems that fit under these categories and deal with problems as they emerge, rather than having to wait for the next condition assessment of a building.
80% of SCI funds must be targeted to building envelope (foundation, roof, windows, etc.) and mechanical systems (electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc.)
20% of SCI funds are discretionary, offering school boards flexibility to allocate towards renewal capital project at existing schools (e.g. science labs, interior finishings, etc.)
Unspent funds from a board’s SCI allocation may be carried forward to the following year.
Boards will be required to report spending of this SCI funding in the VFA.facility database. Reimbursement of board expenditure is contingent on timely reporting. Payments will be made twice a year based on reported expenditure. The Ministry will fund short-term interest costs related to these expenditures reflecting that SCI funding will occur on a bi-annual basis, consistent with other capital programs.
Boards must use this funding on depreciable renewal expenditures in schools that are expected to remain open and operating for at least five years. Boards should use the funding to address renewal priorities of the board, including addressing health and safety, replacing and repairing building components, improving the energy efficiency of schools, and improving accessibility. Boards are not to use this funding to expand the size of schools, build new schools, or to service debt.
** SRA funding, synthesized from information on pages 114-22 in the Education Funding Technical Paper, 2016-17:
The provincial government allocates SRA funding to school boards predominantly based on the number of pupils in a given board, although other factors such as age of buildings and utilization rates of schools are also taken into consideration in how this funding is allocated.
School boards are to use this money for repairing and renovating schools. Generally, school boards use SRA funding for more “cosmetic” repairs such as painting – which are also included in the $15-billion repair backlog total. These types of repairs are important in sending a positive message to students about their learning environment, to teachers and staff about their working environment and to the community, in general, about the importance of our publicly funded schools as critical infrastructure. Therefore, SRA funding is a good complement to SCI funding.