Alberta public schools face deferred maintenance backlogs too

Deferred maintenance can be defined as, “an estimate of the required costs to maintain safe, comfortable, and supportive learning environments’. It can also be defined as “disrepair in our children’s schools”.

Ontario public schools have over $15-billion of deferred maintenance. All 72 school boards in the province have a deferred maintenance backlog that contributes to this $15-billion total.

However, Ontario is not alone. In Alberta, deferred maintenance in schools is also an issue.

According to provincial assessments of school buildings conducted every five years, there is approximately $1-billion of deferred maintenance in the Calgary Board of Education’s (CBE) 220 schools and an estimated one-third of these schools will soon be rated “marginal”. A marginal school “meets minimum requirements; has significant deficiencies. May have high operating/maintenance costs.”

Given that roughly 70% of CBE schools are more than 40 years old, nobody should be surprised at the leaky roofs, drafty windows and creaking boilers that are starting to appear. CBE Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre said the school board is coming to a “critical intersection” on capital infrastructure.

A similar situation exists in Edmonton. According to provincial assessments of Edmonton Public School Board’s (EPSB) 200 school buildings, deferred maintenance in 2014 totalled $216-million and was expected to balloon to $710 million by 2017, as 40 additional schools will reach 50 years of age. Unless new funding solutions are found, EPSB is projected to have $1-billion of deferred maintenance in its schools by 2026.

Schools in the Edmonton Catholic School Board’s (ECSB) 88 schools have an estimated $250-million in deferred maintenance. Trustees from the ECSB have referred to this situation as an “infrastructure crisis”.