Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Fix Our Schools campaign. Please note that from our launch in October 2014 until August 2015, we were focused primarily on the TDSB in Toronto. Therefore, many FAQs are currently TDSB-centric. However, as of August 2015, the campaign expanded to engage people from all Ontario school boards in advocating for safe, well-maintained schools. With this in mind, we expect that our FAQs will broaden accordingly! Certainly, if you have questions, please contact us.

Why can’t parents raise money to repair our schools? The Ontario government has strict guidelines for use of fundraising dollars; they cannot be used for repairs or for new buildings. These rules ensure that the state of a school building is not dictated by the wealth of a given school’s surrounding neighbourhood.

Is the condition of schools really that bad? Our local school looks like it just needs a good coat of paint. Many of the items included in the $15-billion of outstanding repairs across Ontario public schools lurk beneath the surface. Most parents would have no way of seeing or knowing that a boiler needs replacing or that a roof is about to leak in the next rain storm or that there is a structural repair required.

I don’t have kids. Why should I care? Your grandparents and parents paid for these buildings. They are valuable assets owned by taxpayers that need to  be maintained to a standard that will allow them to keep their value. Your taxes are being wasted when the boards need to do emergency repairs rather than cost-effective proactive repairs. The boards need stable, adequate funding to make the most cost effective repairs.

My child’s school is newly built; how does this affect us? New schools still need ongoing, proactive, preventative maintenance to ensure the building is kept in a state of good repair and continues to be safe. Current provincial funding for maintaining and repairing schools does not allow for this type of important proactive work to be done.

Are schools in richer neighbourhoods in better shape? No. Almost two decades of inadequate funding for the repair of Ontario’s schools has left all of our older schools with millions of dollars of needed repairs.

Does a school with high standardized test scores indicate the school is in good condition? There are some newer schools that are in better shape, but there is no link between the test scores and the state of the building.

I’m a parent and I’m alarmed that my kid’s school is crumbling. What can I do? First of all, know that you are not alone and that together we can provide safe, well maintained schools for our children. Please get involved in the Fix Our Schools campaign by subscribing to receive emails, following us on Facebook and/or Twitter and enlisting other concerned parents to get involved. We try to make activism easy for busy parents so the actions we will suggest won’t require a lot of time. Together, we can show the local, provincial and federal governments that voters expect safe, well-maintained schools for children.

Please view your school Principal as a partner in advocating for safe, well-maintained schools. Principals are not to blame for leaking roofs or any other disrepair in their schools. In fact, principals working in old buildings are in a tough spot these days, often put in the role of boiler specialist rather than curriculum leader – which isn’t right at all! Would you rather have your child’s principal managing a maintenance job or providing leadership at the school? 

I‘m a teacher. What can I do to improve my work environment? Get involved in the Fix Our Schools campaign! Subscribe to receive emails, follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter and encourage your colleagues to get involved too. Send us photos of your disrepair in your school and also send us photos of schools that are in great condition so we can show people what schools ought to look like!

I’m a grandparent and my grandchildren’s school is crumbling. What can I do? Get involved in the Fix Our Schools campaign! Subscribe to receive emails, follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter and encourage your children, friends and neighbours to get involved too. We try to make activism easy for busy people so if you receive our emails and we suggest writing a letter – we will have already written up a template for you to follow! And provide you the emails of the people to whom you should send your letter!

If my child’s school is such awful condition, then why don’t I hear them complain about it? Sadly, many children don’t know schools should be any other way since the school has likely been in disrepair since they started attending! Some of the vague complaints we get from our children can also be easily dismissed. One Fix Our Schools parent heard her child complain about a cold classroom for years but had no idea of the severity of the issue until her son reported that his classroom was only TWELVE degrees celsius.

Does this issue have anything to do with the lack of technology and stable wi-fi in my child’s school? It is related since leaking roofs and rusted structural columns are urgent matters that use a school board’s energy and resources. Furthermore, in old buildings, creating wi-fi hubs is often challenging and expensive.

Why are country schools being closed at such an alarming rate? Rural school boards are also suffering from unstable, inadequate funding. They are pressured by the Provincial government’s funding formula to close schools in their boards, despite the devastating effect closures have on students and communities. Worse still, current provincial funding encourages school boards to keep schools open that have more outstanding repairs and to close schools that are in better shape.