After reviewing the 2002 Rozanski Report, Fix Our Schools found this 15-year old report to still be incredibly relevant today.
In 2002, Mordechai Rozanski conducted a comprehensive review of Ontario’s education funding formula and made recommendations to improve both the adequacy and structure of education funding in Ontario. Unfortunately, most of his recommendations have not yet been implemented. However, with a provincial election in 2018, all political parties are starting to pull together their platforms. We would urge all parties to integrate Rozanski’s recommendations into their respective education platforms.
The funding formula for education is not meeting the needs of the 2-million students who attend publicly funded schools in this province. Improvements are desperately needed and the Rozanski report provides a framework for doing just that.
Rozanski found the following issues with the provincial funding formula for school repair and renewal; and made the accompanying recommendations.
Issue 1: As of 2002, yearly funding to school boards for school renewal (repairs and maintenance) was $266-million for school assets valued at $28-billion. This was less than 1% of the value of the facility replacement value of schools. Established guidelines recommended that governments provide annually a minimum of 1.5% to 4% of the current facility replacement value of a building for renewal needs.
- Update the benchmark costs within the education funding formula and increase annual funding for school renewal to meet industry guidelines.
Where this issue is at today:
in 2015, Ontario’s Auditor-General issued a report stating that $1.4-billion per year ought to be allocated to school boards for school repairs and maintenance, a figure that represented 2.5% of the value of school assets in Ontario. Between 2011-2015, provincial funding for school repairs was $5.8-billion less than it ought to have been, according to these Ontario Auditor-General numbers, which obviously contributed to the ballooning deferred maintenance backlog.
In June 2016, the Liberal provincial government did announce $1.1-billion of new money over two years for school repairs (after significant pressure from Fix Our Schools and both the NDP and PC parties). This new money brought annual funding for school repairs in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 to the $1.4-billion recommended. Therefore, annual funding for school repairs is finally at a level that it always OUGHT to have been at!
Any responsible provincial government would protect a minimum annual provincial budget allocation of $1.4-billion for school repairs to ensure routine maintenance of the buildings in which 2-million Ontario children spend their days.
Issue 2: As of 2002, $5.6-billion of deferred maintenance had been allowed to accumulate in Ontario’s publicly funded schools
- School boards should secure capital financing needed to quickly address this deferred maintenance via debentures
- Province ought to support school boards with $200-million of additional funding for interest and principal payments on these debentures
Where this issue is at today:
The provincial government never pursued the solution of debt financing to a degree that impacted the deferred maintenance backlog in Ontario’s schools. As of 2017, the deferred maintenance backlog in our schools has ballooned to $15-billion.
Our provincial government must admit that annual funding allocations will never address a $15-billion issue that took 20 years to manifest. Solutions such as issuing bonds to allow Ontario citizens to invest in our publicly funded schools must be considered.