We heard the following from a head custodian who works with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, which serves rural and urban communities surrounding Peterborough Ontario.
“The lack of funding for maintenance and infrastructure repair creates cascading problems. When we have to close down part of an aging building because we don’t have the funds to maintain or repair it, students get squeezed, and the learning environment suffers. When maintenance and infrastructure budgets are stripped of funds to pay for other vital but underfunded programs – like mandated small class sizes or full-day kindergarten – kids suffer. We know very well that the physical infrastructure of schools contributes to the learning environment of the child.”
This statement underscores the need for a provincial education funding approach that takes into account differences in geography, demographics and the age of school buildings when it comes not only to school renewal funding but also to operational maintenance funding. It also underscores the need for a provincial standard for building maintenance.
The $15.9 billion of disrepair that has accumulated in Ontario’s schools is due to the chronic and gross provincial underfunding for two decades…
- Underfunding of school renewal
- Underfunding of operational maintenance
- Underfunding of new schools
This situation is not sustainable. We need to truly fix our schools and also to truly fix the provincial education funding approach in Ontario.
On November 14, 2017, we joined forces with the Campaign for Public Education for a media conference at Queen’s Park where economist Hugh Mackenzie revealed his latest report on the deterioration of Ontario’s schools.
Mackenzie’s report points out that since 2002, the repair backlog in Ontario’s publicly funded schools has increased from $5.6 billion to $15.9 billion – tripling in 15 years. Current provincial funding for school renewal totals $1.4 billion per year (comprised of $1 billion in special School Condition Improvement (SCI) funding + $357 million in regular School Renewal Allocation (SRA) funding). Mackenzie’s report confirms that despite the significant increase in annual provincial funding for school renewal since 2015, $1.4 billion/year is simply not enough to make up for the 20 years when provincial funding was a mere fraction of what it ought to have been. In fact, the report highlights that with current increased provincial funding levels for school renewal, the repair backlog will continue to increase.
What do we need to do to truly fix our schools? Continue reading
On November 14, 2017, we co-hosted a media conference at Queen’s Park releasing economist Hugh Mackenzie’s latest report about the deterioration of Ontario’s schools. Mackenzie confirmed that even with increased capital funding for schools, the disrepair is continuing to grow and now stands at an appalling $15.9 billion.
Our media conference and the Mackenzie’s report generated some great discussion in the Legislature between NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Premier Wynne and Education Minister Hunter. Following is a copy of the official Hansard relative to school facilities from November 14, 2017:
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. Schools in Ontario need $15.9 billion worth of repairs just to get them to decent standards for our children. That’s a very big number, with very big consequences. In the summer, that number means kids are in the classrooms sweating in their seats because schools can’t afford air conditioning on hot days. In the winter, which is upon us, it means a second-grader, for example, trying to focus on her math test while fumbling with her winter gloves and parka because the heat is broken yet again at the school. We have to do better for our children in this province. Why did the Premier allow this $15.9-billion school repair backlog to get so bad? Continue reading
The scores of parents, grandparents, teachers and school staff who contact Fix Our Schools with questions are really all asking the same two questions:
- How did the schools get to be in such bad shape?
- When are we going to Fix Our Schools?
Economist Hugh_MacKenzie’s latest report, “Ontario’s deteriorating schools: The fix is not in” answers the first question. Since the Province took over funding of schools 20 years ago, the physical condition of Ontario’s schools has been a consistent casualty.*
Fix Our Schools started with a room of parents in the local public school library wondering why our children’s school didn’t have proper heat, safe stairs, washroom stall doors, or space for them to sit in the cafeteria to eat lunch (many of them ate on the floor).
Some parents raised concerns about asbestos and peeling paint, which likely contained lead. We discussed how our school actually had an evacuation protocol in the winters so that when the boiler failed we’d know where to pick up our children. We also noted that the newer addition to the school was literally sinking. Continue reading
On Friday, November 10, 2017, the TDSB released its updated disrepair data for each of its 584 schools and the news is not good. What was a $3.5 billion repair backlog a year ago has grown to $3.7 billion.
As Andrea Gordon reports on the November 10, 2017 in the Toronto Star article article entitled, “Toronto board wants developer levies used to fix aging schools“, “Despite improved funding from the province over the last few years, the $297 million for the current school year “is not enough to keep pace with the accumulated backlog and future repair needs. Without “adequate and predictable school funding for school repairs,” the board projected the bill will reach $5.25 billion by 2021.”
Fix Our Schools is thrilled to see the ongoing transparency into the magnitude of disrepair in Ontario’s school buildings. Today, in this press release, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has released its annual school-by-school Facility Condition Index (FCI) rating of its 584 school buildings, as well as the repair backlog for each school. The format of this information allows parents and communities to easily understand the condition of local schools and the repairs that are outstanding.
Like all school boards in Ontario, the TDSB has been grossly and chronically underfunded by the provincial government.
Even with increased provincial funding in recent years, there is simply not enough money for school boards to keep pace with the accumulated backlog and future repair needs. As evidence of this, the TDSB’s repair backlog increased from $3.5 billion in September 2016 to $3.7 billion in September 2017.
Without adequate and predictable funding for school repairs, disrepair in TDSB schools will continue growing to an estimated $5.25 billion by 2021. Continue reading
Lots of stakeholders are getting involved in the discussion about Education Development Charges (EDCs), urging the provincial government to consider changing the outdated regulation that dictates which school boards are eligible to collect EDC money from new developments and how those school boards can use that money.
In the last few weeks:
- The Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) sent this letter to Education Minister Hunter, highlighting the need for changes to allow for more local flexibility to address capital and renewal needs.
- City Councillors in Toronto called on the provincial government to make a change to allow all local school boards to collect levies from developers. In the November 7, 2017 Toronto Star article, entitled “Developers should help pay to expand overcrowded schools”, Councillor Mike Layton said, “It’s “a no-brainer” that builders should contribute to costs of school infrastructure”.
- TDSB Trustees have continued petitioning the province to change the outdated regulations that guide the eligibility for and use of EDC money. You can see coverage below on CityNews Toronto and sign the petition here!
4. Parents and community members have continued to call on the Province for change as illustrated in the October 29, 2017 Toronto Star article written by Andrea Gordon, “Parents want developers to kick in and help expand overcrowded toronto schools”.
Lots of stakeholders all asking for change! Will the Province listen? Or continue to leave much needed money for school buildings on the table?