The Ministry of Education refuses to fund any new school builds in Ontario’s North East next year. Although that school board doesn’t see the growth that some urban boards are seeing, they have a huge repair backlog to contend with, just like every public school board in Ontario.
According to the Province’s FCI rating, it would take almost 60% of the entire value of the building to repair R. Ross Beattie Sr Public School in Timmins. As taxpayers, we need to ask, “Does it always make sense to repair old school buildings?” We can positively impact student learning in this province by providing safe, well-maintained spaces to learn in, and as part of this solution we need to consider building new schools.
It will take a visionary provincial government to Fix Ontario’s Schools. Which party will form that government? They’ll need to replace the 346 schools deemed too expensive to repair and build 346 new state-of-the-art schools. Let’s prove that education matters in our province. Schools are essential to our economy and as such must be a priority.
We’re past the first autumn weeks of school and into the darker days of winter. With Parent-Teacher interviews behind us, parents are naturally wondering, “How can we help our kids focus and succeed in school in this difficult season?” The People for Education have done a broad review of research on student success, and have come up with four main steps a parent/caregiver can take:
Have high (moderately) expectations for your child.
That means letting them know that working hard is worth it and will bring success. Let them know that your family values them doing well in school.
Ask them to review their school day with you. The dinner table is a great place to do this, but so is the car, where they can talk to the back of your head and feel more comfortable broaching difficult subjects.
Ask specific questions to get them going. “What’s the best/worst part of your day?”, “What was it like to do……” Give them a child-appropriate example from your day to model good conversation.
Encourage planning and self advocacy. Help them to chunk down activities into doable parts and to ask for help when they need it. “What do you think you could try next time to get that project done on time?”
Read together. Oddly enough, reading to your child increases the chance of them being a good reader. Read magazines, maps, comics, picture books, non-fiction, newspapers. To get help finding better read-aloud books, try anthologies such as the bestselling, fact-driven “Read-Aloud Handbook”, by Jim Trelease.
In the November 27, 2017 Toronto Star article entitled, “Education Minister asks school boards to notify parents of lead in drinking water in ‘timely manner‘”, the issue of lead in drinking water in schools and daycares in Ontario continues to be explored.
Education Minister Hunter claimed that the Province has a long-term plan to address lead in drinking water at schools and daycares, which includes the increased annual funding for school renewal of $1.4 billion/year. However, Fix Our Schools was cited as saying that this amount is “not enough to address the backlog of various repairs needed at schools across the province.” Indeed, there is a $15.9 billion repair backlog in Ontario’s schools and replacing all the lead pipes that contribute to lead in the drinking water of Ontario’s schools is not included in that figure.
“Ideally, nobody would be drinking out of lead pipes,” said Krista Wylie, the co-founder of the advocacy group Fix Our Schools. But neither school boards nor principals have access to the funding needed to undertake a “huge infrastructure overhaul,” she said.