Monthly Archives: May 2017

What is the air quality like in your child’s classroom at school?

This is the time of year where our family suffers from hay fever as well as asthma. You’ve probably noticed all the pink tree blossom petals blowing to the ground, but the flower’s pollen is almost invisible. I can only see it this week because it is a fine yellow haze on the surface of my car.

How does hay fever and asthma relate to school building conditions? The quality of the air inside a building is invisible to us. But its effects are not. Ontario schools need a shocking amount of repairs so that they can provide adequate air quality for their students, including the large number who suffer from asthma.

Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism in the States, and we can assume that it is also true in Canada. Children cannot succeed in Ontario schools if they are absent! While there is presently no cure for asthma, current belief is that it can be controlled through medical treatment and the management of environmental triggers.

Air may be invisible, but the importance of having access to good air quality is not – our students need it in order to be successful. A recent 2014 study in Australia found that serious work in mold removal, ventilation or roof repairs has a significant effect on academic performance. Schools that had large budget work done in these categories could see an improvement of 4% in pass rates, and marks up by 0.15 standard deviations.*

Until recently, we didn’t realize that it is possible to improve the air in an Ontario school. There are new options available now for classroom air quality in Ontario that cannot be rolled out until Provincial funding is made available. Let your local MPP know that air quality may be a cost effective way of raising academic standards!

If you have a child with asthma, here are some resources:

*Tess M. Stafford, February 2014, Department of Economics, The University of New South Wales, Kensington NSW 2052, Australia

TDSB lobbying Province to revisit Education Development Charges

Since its inception, the Fix Our Schools campaign has looked to Education Development Charges (EDCs) as part of the overall funding solution that could address the $15-billion of disrepair in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.

The Toronto District School Board has the most to gain from the provincial government revisiting the regulations guiding the ability of school boards to collect EDCs. With this in mind, TDSB Ward 10 Trustee Ausma Malik and parents in her Ward have launched a petition.

If you are a parent in the TDSB, we encourage you to sign this petition to let the Province know that you expect funding solutions to address the ongoing disrepair in Ontario schools.

How to find the repair backlog for your local school

In Ontario, our children attend poorly maintained schools. Unfortunately, children do not remember a time when this was not the case. They expect their schools to be broken. As parents, grandparents, teachers, and caretakers, we know the schools are in poor condition because the Ontario Education Funding formula is broken.

Since our children don’t expect state-of-the-art schools, they rarely report the poor environment they learn in every day. How can you find out what the real condition is at your local school?

In August 2016, The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) led the way in transparency, when it released detailed information on disrepair in its schools, which included definitions and context for understanding both the Facility Condition Index (FCI)  and the Renewal Needs BacklogThe information provided in these links is valuable for ALL Ontario citizens and helps all of us to understand the complicated process used by the provincial government to assess school disrepair.

Feeling pressure to follow suit, the Ministry of Education released an FCI list for all Ontario schoolsThis chart provides information on each Ontario school such as replacement value, renewal (repair) costs and FCI rating.

Check with your school board to see if you can access more detailed information such as the TDSB has provided its communities. For example, the TDSB has given a list of specific repairs needed for each school, which is very helpful for school councils to advocate for their school. Parents should know if the standpipe system that helps to put out fires needs urgent repairs! Other school boards can access that information as well; school councils can ask to see it.

For TDSB schools, start by finding your school here

Next, from your school’s homepage, you’ll see a link to the “Schools Repairs List” on the left-hand side of the screen. Click there to find a detailed list of outstanding repairs at your local schools.

Be informed. Let’s advocate for our local schools. Let’s fix our schools. 

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