Tag Archives: Disrepair

A picture is worth 1,000 words


2-million children attend publicly funded schools in Ontario. Many of these schools are crumbling and do not provide an optimum learning environment for children.

Please email Fix Our Schools photos of disrepair in your local schools. A picture is truly worth 1,000 words!

The first step in fixing a problem is Northern 3acknowledging there is a problem. Your photos will ensure that the problem of disrepair in schools is
acknowledged and help move us towards finding solutions to Fix Our Schools!

Push to fix public schools: On CTV News at 6 pm

Spencer Higdon-McGreal, a grade 12 student who accompanied Fix Our Schools at Queen’s Park on February 22, spoke about how cold classrooms in winter make learning challenging, as covered on CTV News at 6 pm. Spencer has experienced firsthand the negative impact of disrepair in schools for the past 14 years.

Students in this province should not need to wear winter coats in their classrooms!

Premier Wynne: Will you increase annual provincial funding for school maintenance to provide the $1.4-billion/year to school boards that the Auditor-General has identified is required to maintain Ontario’s publicly funded schools?

Our presentation to City-School Boards Committee

city of toronto city hallAs you know, Fix Our Schools is an Ontario-wide campaign. However, we are knocking on every door in an effort to raise awareness on disrepair in our schools and encourage action to address the $15-billion of disrepair currently plaguing Ontario’s schools.

With this in mind, Fix Our Schools attended the City of Toronto’s joint City-School Boards Advisory Committee meeting on February 11, 2016 and made this presentation, which calls upon Ontario’s largest municipality to consider how it can work together with all four local school boards to help Fix Our Schools.

CTV covers Fix Our Schools at Queen’s Park

Parents continue to express concerns over disrepair in their children’s schools in this CTV piece, which aired on February 2, 2016.

“Our principals are becoming engineers,” said one parent. “They’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re working on fixing leaks on roofs.”

“Our bathrooms — there’s no privacy because the locks don’t work,” said a Grade 5 student.

“The unfortunate part is that the … physical nature of (my son’s school) is just so degraded that it’s embarrassing,” said another parent.

Toronto Star coverage of disrepair in public schools

In the January 20, 2016 Toronto Star, Fix Our Schools was quoted several times in the article, “Schools crumbling amid $1B repair shortfall”, which focused on disrepair in TDSB schools specifically.

While the Fix Our Schools campaign is focused on addressing disrepair in all Ontario public schools, certainly the TDSB continues to stand out as the school board with the most disrepair in its buildings. Last year, the TDSB only received $2.26 for every $100 of disrepair in its schools. The Province keeps touting how it has increased funding for school maintenance, yet when they doubled funding for school maintenance this year, that still only provides the TDSB with under $5 for every $100 of disrepair in its schools…

Could you fix a $100 problem with only $5? I think it is safe to say that no matter how efficient you are, this would be impossible!


CTV News covers disrepair in TDSB schools

On January 20, 2016 CTV News aired a piece featuring the disrepair in TDSB schools. Fix Our Schools was quoted at several junctures in this piece, highlighting that the provincial government has been grossly and chronically underfunding public schools.

“If the province does not step up and increase the funding that they provide to public schools significantly we are heading to a direction where schools will become unsafe,” head of Fix Our Schools, Krista Wylie, said.

Auditor-General’s 2015 Report: How disrepair in Ontario’s public schools is assessed

We’ve copied and pasted the following section on how disrepair in Ontario’s public schools is assessed from page 13 of Chapter 3 of the  2015 Auditor-General’s report, since there is a lot of interesting information for people concerned with the state of disrepair in Ontario’s public schools:

“In 2011, to quantify the current backlog of renewal needs for all Ontario schools, the Ministry of Education hired a company specializing in asset management to conduct condition assessments on all schools five years and older. The assessments are being done over a five year period covering about 20% of the schools per year. The assessors visit each school and conduct a non-invasive inspection of all major building components and systems (for example, basement, foundation, and HVAC systems).

School portables, third-party leased facilities, equipment and furnishings, maintenance shops and additional administrative buildings are not assessed as part of this exercise. Currently, with 80% of the schools assessed, the Ministry is reporting a total renewal need of $14 billion, $1.7 billion deemed as critical and urgent (i.e., renewal work that should not be postponed due to risk of imminent failure).

An investment of about $1.4 billion per year based on an industry average of 2.5% of the $55 billion replacement value is estimated to be required to maintain the schools in a state of good repair. But actual annual funding in the last five years had been $150 million a year, increasing to $250 million in 2014/15 and $500 million in 2015/16.

The Ministry allocates this funding to school boards based on a percentage calculated by dividing the school boards’ individual needs by the total renewal need of $14 billion. Distributing the funding in proportion to individual school boards’ critical needs should be considered to at least ensure that the critical needs are met.

The assessments made during the first year of the condition assessment exercise are now five years old. Therefore, any further deterioration or repairs that might have been undertaken on those schools over this period have not been captured.”

If you believe your child’s school is in good shape…you may be surprised

Many parents we’ve spoken with over the past 18 months have said that their children’s school is in “pretty good shape” except for maybe needing a new coat of paint. Fix Our Schools wants to emphasize that much of the disrepair reflected in the $15-billion repair backlog in Ontario’s schools is invisible. Parents, teachers and students would have no way of knowing about much of the disrepair until there was a system failure. For instance, until classes are cancelled at a school because there is no heat, people would presume the boiler was in good shape.

The takeaway here is that just because the disrepair is invisible doesn’t mean that it won’t impact students and teachers at some point and definitely doesn’t mean that it can be deferred indefinitely!  So, how is all of this disrepair calculated if much of it is invisible?  Great question!  Read on…

Over the past five years, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has engaged a company called VFA, a leading provider of facility assessment services, to assess the condition of Ontario’s approximately 4,900 public schools via a “Facility Condition Assessment’ (FCA).

An FCA involves a team of one or more specialists inspecting each system (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and architectural/structural elements) in a school building to understand its condition. The FCA team takes into account the remaining useful life of the system and also conducts a physical assessment of the school building. Unfortunately, this physical assessment is usually limited to a visual inspection and rarely involves any destructive or intrusive testing to make a better determination of the state of the building component. Therefore, an FCA team could visually inspect a school’s roof and deem it to be in good condition, and then the following week a major rain storm could prove that assessment incorrect when the roof starts to leak.

The FCA Team determines an estimated cost for each item of work that should be done on the school building’s system components (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and architectural/structural elements) and assigns each item of work a priority level: urgent, high, medium or low.

So, disrepair in public schools is based on these Facilities Condition Assessments conducted by VFA, a third party company engaged by the provincial government. Given the limitations of these assessments, the estimated $15-billion of disrepair in all 72 of Ontario’s publicly funded school boards may actually be quite conservative. Yet another reason why Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government must start to prioritize school buildings as important public infrastructure that must be repaired and rebuilt!