CTV News reported on January 22 that almost half of the 200 schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board are in critical or poor condition.
Education Minister Sandals’ response to this report is frustrating. We’ve included our rebuttal to each of her quotes below using bold italics:
“It is the board’s responsibility to keep the buildings in good repair,” Minister Liz Sandals told reporters at a news conference in Guelph. It is the provincial government’s responsibility to provide adequate funding to school boards to keep school buildings in good repair. With the levels of funding provided to school boards over the last 20 years, there is no possible way any school board could have kept its aging buildings in good repair.
“Their problem is they need to manage the money that they are receiving.” For 2015-16, Ontario School Boards are receiving less than 5% of what is needed to address their current outstanding repair backlogs. Could YOU fix $100 problem if you only had $5? Tough to be that efficient…
Sandals said the Toronto boards have greater opportunities than many other school boards in the province because they can make more money by selling schools where enrolment has dropped than in other cities, where real estate is cheaper. Selling schools takes a long time, is not always the best answer for a community (especially when Premier Wynne is actively pursuing using public assets as community hubs), and only offers a short-term and incomplete solution going forward.
Sandals said Toronto’s public board has had its funding quadrupled in the last year. If your telephone bill has $100 outstanding and last month you only paid the telephone company $2, but then quadrupled your payment this month to $8… IT STILL ISN’T ENOUGH!
She said the government has spent $13.4 billion in the last decade on new schools, retrofitted schools, additions and renewal projects. The government plans to spend another $11 billion over the next 10 years on the same expenses.
“If you add that up together, we’re looking at almost $25 billion going to school board capital. Minister Sandals is lumping together money spent on building new schools and additions with money allocated for maintaining existing schools. She is comparing apples to oranges. Only a fraction of the money required to keep our children’s schools in a state of good repair is being allocated by our provincial government and this must change if we want to see the $15-billion capital repair backlog in Ontario’s schools start to decrease … rather than continue to grow.