Summer is drawing to a close and the 2017/18 school year is about to begin.
Many Ontario students will return to schools that are in better shape than they were a year ago. Over the summer, countless people from all over the province made comments to me about how much construction work seemed to be going on at schools in their communities. Hurrah! Finally!
For too long, the money provided by our provincial government to school boards for school repairs was a mere fraction of what it ought to have been. Industry standards suggest that $1.4-billion per year is the bare minimum required to ensure that Ontario’s schools are kept in a state of good repair.
When the Fix Our Schools campaign started over 3 years ago, annual provincial funding for school repairs was a mere $150-million. No wonder school boards were having trouble keeping up with school repairs and repair backlogs were growing, given that the Province was only providing 10% of the money actually needed to properly maintain schools!
The Province is now providing $1.4-billion per year to school boards for school repair. Hurrah! Finally!
We realize that there is still much work to do, given that $15-billion of disrepair accumulated in Ontario’s schools over the two decades when annual provincial funding for school repairs was grossly inadequate. A repair backlog of this magnitude obviously must be addressed. All children in Ontario deserve to attend a safe, well-maintained school.
However, through our grassroots, child-focused, non-partisan activism, Fix Our Schools has achieved what many thought was impossible. We have effectively and consistently raised the issue of disrepair in Ontario’s schools, becoming a critical force in pressuring Kathleen Wynne’s government to increase annual funding for school repairs by $1.25-billion. If you have engaged in any way, large or small, with the Fix Our Schools campaign then you should feel proud of this accomplishment. Whenever you see a school under construction, know that you contributed to making that school improvement possible.