Tag Archives: Disrepair

Our contribution to the provincial pre-budget consultation process

Fix Our Schools contributed this submission to the provincial pre-budget consultation process. It highlights that the $1.4 billion/year our provincial government is currently allocating for school renewal is simply not enough to start to reduce the $15.9 billion of disrepair in Ontario’s schools. To make up for the 20 years when provincial funding was a mere fraction of what it ought to have been as per industry standards, economist Hugh Mackenzie suggests that an additional investment of $1.6 billion/year is needed to start to truly fix Ontario’s schools as per the following breakdown:

Continue reading

How did Ontario’s schools get to be in such bad shape?

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

Photos of Ontario schools in disrepair

What school is this?

It really doesn’t matter… so many of Ontario’s schools are in a similar state of disrepair that these photos could have been taken in any number of communities across the province.

Ask your MPP why schools have been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.

More importantly, ask your local MPP what they plan to do to Fix Our Schools. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Send a letter asking what the plan is to improve school conditions for Ontario’s children

On September 19, 2016, Fix Our Schools sent this letter to Premier Wynne and Education Minister asking the their government please:

  • Explore and implement funding solutions such as issuing provincial bonds to immediately address the $15-billion repair backlog in schools.
  • Work with school boards to develop measurable goals for what school conditions in Ontario ought to be; and plans/timelines for how those goals will be achieved.
  • Release disrepair data at regular intervals to ensure that the $15-billion repair backlog is decreasing; and not continuing to increase.
  • Include school conditions as a key part of your party’s provincial campaign platform.

We requested a response to these requests by October 3, 2016.

As of Monday, October 10 – no response has been received.

If school conditions are important to you and you share our concerns, we encourage you to please send this letter to Premier Wynne & Minister Hunter also! Please ensure you include your MPP; and include your name and address at the bottom of the letter.

Here is the letter below, should you wish to copy and paste instead:

To: Premier Wynne, Education Minister Hunter, Minister of Infrastructure Chiarelli & Deputy Minister Zegarac,

I am engaged with the Fix Our Schools campaign, which represents thousands of Ontario parents. Today, I ask your government to improve school conditions for all students in this province by immediately addressing the $15-billion of disrepair that has accumulated in our children’s schools.

While I commend the government’s increase in annual funding for school repairs to an industry-accepted standard, this new level of $1.4-billion/year for school repairs does little to address the $15-billion repair backlog that was allowed to accumulate in Ontario’s publicly funded schools over the past 20 years. In September of this year, an unacceptable number of Ontario’s students headed back to aging schools with hot classrooms, leaky ceilings, and myriad other issues.

Therefore, I call upon your government to improve school conditions for all Ontario students and find funding solutions to immediately address the $15-billion of disrepair in our children’s schools. I ask that your government please:

  • Explore and implement funding solutions such as issuing provincial bonds to immediately address the $15-billion repair backlog in schools.
  • Work with school boards to develop measurable goals for what school conditions in Ontario ought to be; and plans/timelines for how those goals will be achieved.
  • Release disrepair data at regular intervals to ensure that the $15-billion repair backlog is decreasing; and not continuing to increase.
  • Include school conditions as a key part of your party’s provincial campaign platform.

Kind regards,

YOUR NAME

YOUR ADDRESS

 

Media continues focus on disrepair in Ontario schools

As school started up for 2016/17, media continued to focus on the state of disrepair in Ontario schools.

CBC interviewed TDSB Chair, Robin Pilkey, who said the state of public schools is awful, given the wealth in Toronto and pointed to Education Development Charges as a possible additional source of funding to address disrepair in schools.

Newstalk 1010’s John Moore interviewed Fix Our Schools Fix Our Schools Co-Founder Krista Wylie about how the intense heat will be felt by students trying to learn in old buildings with no air conditioning as school gets underway this year.

CTV’s Naomi Parness continues to discuss school conditions, disrepair in schools and, specifically, how temperature in classrooms impacts learning.

Here’s hoping media will continue to focus on this important issue that impacts Ontario’s students and teachers.

If you’re surprised by the disrepair in your local school…

The TDSB was the first Ontario school board to release information about disrepair in all of its schools, with complete itemized lists of outstanding repairs along with an indication of whether each repair is urgent, high, medium or low priority. We expect that many citizens will be surprised to see the long lists of outstanding repairs at their local schools.

We urge you to contact your local MPP, the Minister of Education and Premier Wynne to express your concern. Certainly copy the Principal, Superintendent and Trustee for your local school on any correspondence however these people do not have the power to fix the problem, which stems from years of underfunding by the provincial government.

Local school boards have no way to raise money for repairing schools except to rely on the funding provided by the Ontario government. While provincial funding was recently increased to an industry-accepted level of yearly funding for repairs, this new level of funding does not address the $15-billion of disrepair in Ontario schools that has been allowed to accumulate over the past two decades. To adequately address this backlog will require further work by Premier Wynne’s government so be sure to let your MPP know this is an issue of importance to you!

TDSB first to make disrepair information public for each of its schools

Fix Our Schools commends the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for taking a leadership position and being the first school board in Ontario to voluntarily publish detailed information on the disrepair in each of its 588 schools.

The Ministry of Education has been collecting data on outstanding repairs at all Ontario schools for the past five years but has not shared this important information publicly. Our hope is that all of Ontario’s school boards will follow TDSB’s lead and become more transparent with disrepair information since every single one of them has a repair backlog. Similarly, we would expect the Ontario government to make information on disrepair in schools readily available to parents and citizens.

Only when the general public knows there is a problem can the problem be fixed. For too long and for a variety of reasons, the issue of disrepair in Ontario’s schools has not received much attention. Therefore, this step by the TDSB is a crucial one in raising awareness on the issue of disrepair in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.

By visiting the TDSB website and clicking School Repairs List or by visiting the TDSB Home Page for an individual school, parents and citizens can readily find:

  • a complete list of outstanding repairs for a school along with a ranking of whether the repair is classified as urgent, high, medium or low
  • a Facility Condition Index (FCI) number, expressed as a percentage. FCI is calculated by taking the total dollar amount of a school’s repair backlog and dividing that total by the dollar figure of how much it would cost to replace that school (rebuild from new). For instance if there is $1-million of disrepair at a school and the estimated cost of rebuilding that school is $5-million, then the FCI would be 20% whereas if that same school had $4-million of disrepair, then its FCI ranking would be 80%. A higher FCI percentage generally indicates a larger dollar value of disrepair at that school.

 

Why have poor school conditions in Ontario not received more attention?

Disrepair in publicly funded schools is complicated. Through our work with Fix Our Schools, we have found that at every turn, stakeholders involved in this issue are reluctant to shine a light on disrepair in Ontario’s schools:

  • Parents don’t want to believe they drop their children off at a school that is in disrepair and so would rather focus on the great things happening in their children’s schools.  
  • Teachers don’t have time or the political will to be the “squeaky wheel” every time there is disrepair in their school that needs addressing. 
  • Principals and Superintendents don’t wish to highlight their school(s) as being in poor condition and risk unleashing a maelstrom of parent anger and frustration (many parents we speak to actually blame principals and caretakers for the disrepair they notice in their children’s schools, which is totally not the case at all!). 
  • Trustees and School Boards don’t want to risk “biting the hand that feeds them” so tend to be “careful” about naming the provincial government’s funding as the root cause of disrepair in schools.
  • Teachers Unions represent individual teacher health and safety concerns when teachers raise these issues. However, they have not focused on disrepair in schools and the impact on teacher working conditions as a key negotiation issue to date.
  • Media want photographs of schools in disrepair to illustrate in vivid detail how disrepair looks and create a newsworthy, sensational story. However, they are unable to get permission to access these schools because no principal wants to be the school featured (understandable!) and so media has not provided adequate coverage to this important issue.   

And so, disrepair in schools gets ignored again and again and continues to get worse – either because of lack of perspective, time, bandwidth, courage, interest, or political will.

So, collectively, we’ve all in some small way allowed the provincial government to continue to underfund school buildings over the past several decades. To fix our schools, we must come together to not only shine a light on this issue but to demand action on this issue from our provincial government. 

To make matters more complicated, much of the $15-billion of disrepair in schools is invisible to the naked eye. Structural concerns, repairs to fire alarm and suppression systems go unnoticed until they fail. You won’t know that the boiler at a school should have been replaced ten years ago until it stops working in February and school gets cancelled for a day! You won’t know that the fire alarm system was broken until … well – you get the idea. So much of the disrepair lurks beneath the surface and is impossible to illustrate, which means people don’t know about it and cannot shine a light on it.