According to the 2015 Auditor-General’s report, our children’s reality in public schools looks like this:
- Over HALF of Ontario schools are at least 40 years old.
- Over 100,000 Ontario students are in portables.
- 1 out of every 10 schools in Ontario is overcapacity, operating at 120% or more utilization.
Yet, our provincial government’s actions have looked like this:
- Over the last five years the Ministry of Education has approved only a third of the building projects that school boards have required (to address overcrowding and age).
- The Auditor-General estimates that $1.4 Billion per year is needed to maintain schools in “a state of good repair,”. Yet in the last five years, the provincial government has allocated only $150-million – $500-million, amounts that equal only 10%- 35% of what is actually needed.
- For the most part, new projects are favoured over repair and renewal of existing buildings, despite evidence that it should be the opposite.
- In 2011, the Ministry of Education hired a firm to inspect and assess the conditions of all schools that were five years and older. Total disrepair in Ontario public schools is estimated to be over $15-billion, with over $1.7-billion deemed as critical and urgent (i.e., renewal work that should not be postponed due to risk of imminent failure).
- The Ministry of Education allocates funding for school renewal based on an overall provincial formula rather than distributing the funding in proportion to individual school boards’ critical needs. The Auditor recommends changing that.
- School boards can raise additional funds by selling schools with low enrolment, but many boards – for a variety of reasons and competing interests – are reluctant to do that.
We need our provincial government to take a leadership role in addressing both disrepair and overcrowding in our children’s schools.