Tag Archives: Kathleen Wynne

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,




More funding needed to fix crumbling schools: On CTV News at Noon

Fix Our Schools asks Premier Wynne, “Will you release the $1.7-billion that is needed to fix the critical and urgent disrepair that your Auditor-General has confirmed exists in our children’s schools?” at Queen’s Park press conference covered on CTV News at Noon on February 22, 2016.

Fix Our Schools was joined by ETFO President Sam Hammond, who spoke about specific examples of disrepair that impacts both students and teachers in this province; Carolyn Ferns from the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare, who spoke on behalf of the preschoolers and families who rely on childcare housed in publicly funded schools, and Spencer Higdon-McGreal, a Grade 12 student who spoke about how disrepair in schools impacts students.

Students, preschoolers, teachers, staff, principals and community members all deserve safe, well-maintained schools and ask that these important community buildings start to be funded as the critical public infrastructure they are.

Asking Premier Wynne’s government to prioritize schools in this budget

In an open letter sent on January 29, Fix Our Schools requested a coordinated response to the following three questions by February 19 from Premier Wynne, Deputy Premier Matthews, Finance Minister Sousa, Infrastructure Minister Duguid, and Education Minister Sandals:

  • Will you, as a provincial government, release $1.7-billion to fix the critical and urgent disrepair the Auditor-General has confirmed exists in Ontario’s publicly funded schools?
  • 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?
  • How will you address the remaining $13.3-billion of capital repair items that provincial governments have allowed to accumulate in Ontario’s publicly funded schools?

We received an entirely unsatisfactory response letter on the evening of February 19.

Premier Wynne and her government fail to explain how they are going to immediately address the $1.7-billion of critical and urgent disrepair that Ontario’s Auditor-General says exists in our children’s schools. Our provincial government also fails to explain how they will account for the gross and chronic underfunding of public schools in this province and ignores the question on whether they will increase annual provincial funding for school maintenance to the $1.4-billion/year that Ontario’s Auditor-General says is required to maintain our schools.

Disappointed with our provincial government’s response, Fix Our Schools will be publicly asking the three questions above yet again on Monday, February 22 at a press conference being held at Queen’s Park.

Ontario must fix more schools… and do it faster

Kathleen Wynne predicts progress on infrastructure in Ontario based on the federal election results.  “Now that we have a federal partner with the same priority, we can do more and we can do it faster.”

We want to ensure that Premier Wynne includes public school buildings on Ontario’s list of infrastructure priorities. Some of the new federal infrastructure money slated to flow to provincial coffers must go towards addressing the $15-billion of disrepair that currently exists in our province’s public schools.

To this end, Fix Our Schools sent this_letter:

Letter sent to Premier Wynne & All Ontario MPPs on October 27, 2015

All 72 school boards in Ontario have a capital repair backlog, for a total of $15-billion of disrepair in our province’s public schools.

The 2-million students who attend Ontario public schools deserve better – as do the countless children who attend childcare/early learning programs in these same schools; the adults who work every day in these buildings; and the community members who rely upon these buildings as important community hubs.

On October 19, Canadians voted for change. We gave the Federal Liberals a mandate to deliver on their promise to increase investment in infrastructure – even if this means running a deficit. In reaction to the majority win by the Federal Liberals, Premier Wynne said:

“Now that we have a federal partner with the same priority, we can do more and we can do it faster.”    

Fix Our Schools agrees with this comment by Premier Wynne. We hope her sentiment will be applied to addressing the $15-billion of disrepair in our province’s school infrastructure. The $11-billion in capital grants to school boards over 10 years is simply insufficient. More public schools in this province must be repaired and rebuilt – and we must do it faster.

So, as those with power over the funding of public schools in this province:

How much of the federal infrastructure money that is expected to flow to provincial coffers from our new Liberal Federal Government will you commit to repairing and rebuilding Ontario’s public schools?

Public schools are a key component of our society’s infrastructure – and must be funded as such. We look forward to hearing back from you with an answer to our question.

Kind regards,

Krista Wylie – Co-Founder, Fix Our Schools Campaign

Barbara Hall’s TDSB Report – where is it?

Both Toronto dailies have printed concerns about when the Barbara Hall report on the TDSB is going to be released. The Toronto Sun printed “Ontario Liberals Sitting on TDSB Report” on Sept. 6 and the Toronto Star printed “Release Report on School Board Now” on Sept. 11.

Back in mid-July, Fix Our Schools followed up with this letter to the TDSB Governance Panel. We know that Barbara Hall and her colleagues have submitted the report to Premier Wynne and Minister Sandals. However, we do not yet know what is in that report because the province appears to be sitting on the report. Speculation abounds as to why this is the case. Could it be the ongoing labour negotiations that are preventing the release of this report? Could it be the federal election? Could it be the Province doesn’t like what is in the report? Anybody’s guess really.

We continue to hope that any recommendations made by the TDSB Governance Panel will:

• get to the heart of the issues at the TDSB

• respect the fact that this new board of Trustees has had scant time to actually govern

• keep the best interests of TDSB students and families in mind

Jackman Community Daycare speaks up about disrepair

Fix Our Schools was copied on a letter that Donna Spreitzer, the Director of Jackman Community Daycare, wrote to Premier Wynne, Education Minister Sandals, and Deputy Minister Zegarac. Jackman Community Daycare operates within Jackman Avenue Public School, a TDSB school located near Broadview and Danforth that was built in 1963 – a relatively new building compared to the many TDSB schools.

In her letter to the Province, Ms. Spreitzer states that one section of the roof has been leaking for over five years – with a bucket in the stairwell serving as a constant reminder of the neglect to this school building. She outlines that over the 20 years she’s been affiliated with Jackman Avenue Public School, the school’s infrastructure seems to have been in constant need of repair. Ms. Spreitzer urges our provincial government to “Act now. This cannot wait!” Indeed, this is an urgent issue that Kathleen Wynne’s government must address now since her government is responsible for providing funding to public schools in this province.

As per the TDSB Repair Backlog Clock on Trustee Lister’s home page, the repair backlog at the TDSB is estimated to be growing at an astonishing rate of $1.4-million each day at the current level of funding from the Province. The money being received to take care of school buildings is simply insufficient and, at this rate, the TDSB repair backlog will have grown from $3.3-Billion to $4.36-Billion by 2017. By August 6, 2015, the TDSB’s backlog is estimated to have grown to $3.5-Billion. Fix Our Schools agrees wholeheartedly with Ms. Spreitzer’s sentiments: this cannot wait.

“Ontarians are quick to catch on”

On May 26, 2015 in the Ontario Legislature, Education Critic MPP Lisa Gretzky noted that while the provincial government sets the priorities for education in Ontario, this same government is quick to limit its accountability whenever issues arise.

The TDSB Governance Panel was cited as a perfect example of how the provincial government refuses to take responsibility for the delivery of quality education in this province. This panel was formed by the Province to examine governance issues at the TDSB, yet failed to include the provincial government’s critical role in the overall governance and funding of the TDSB.

After citing the TDSB Governance Panel example, MPP Gretzky says, “Well, Speaker, Ontarians are quick to catch on. A letter to the minister from an organization called Fix Our Schools,…, reads as follows—it was dated April 13, 2015.”  She then proceeds to read to the Ontario Legislature the letter that close to 100 Fix Our Schools subscribers have sent to Premier Wynne, Minister Sandals and Deputy Minister Zegarac. She tells her colleagues at the Legislature that every week she is copied on similar letters to the Premier demanding that her government take responsibility for the chaos they are creating in Ontario schools. See page 3 of the official report of debates to see where the Fix Our Schools campaign is cited.

Fix Our Schools subscriber’s submission to TDSB Governance Panel

One of our Fix Our Schools subscribers sent us the letter she wrote to Barbara Hall’s TDSB Governance Panel. Her letter raises excellent concerns and we’d like to share with you:

“Large” should not be confused with “challenging” or “problematic”. When an institution has good organizational structure, governance, and resources – the size of the institution is irrelevant.  I would strongly urge the Ministry NOT to break up the TDSB into smaller boards.  (Rumour in education circles suggests that the Ministry is seeking to divide the TDSB into four separate boards with an umbrella organization at the helm). There are several serious problems with this concept:

1. The Toronto City-School Boards Advisory committee is seeking to work with the TDSB in finding viable solutions to retain under-enrolled schools as community hubs, green space,  or some form of public use. This is extremely important as city density intensifies.  Breaking up the TDSB will only serve to make this collaboration complex, costly, and inefficient.

2. The TDSB renewal backlog of $3.3-billion and the total renewal backlog across all Ontario public schools of $14.7-billion indicates that current capital funding for public schools from the Province is insufficient. In order to address the backlog of repairs in public schools – it is inevitable that the provincial funding formula must change and other sources of funding must be found. There is no alternative but to access education development charges and also property taxes. Given the vast differences in new development and taxation opportunities across the city of Toronto, one school board ensures uniform access to these revenue sources.

3. The TDSB is making progress in implementing constructive improvements to its operating procedures. To dismantle the board at this time would be a massive setback on all levels. First – it would be a huge expenditure – at a time when the provincial government, the city, and the TDSB are struggling with serious deficits. The staff at TDSB (particularly Planning and Facilities) has spent enormous time and energy on research reports dealing with critical, time-sensitive issues including school closures and repair backlogs. Decentralizing this research and distributing it to new, inexperienced staff undermines the timeliness and ultimately, the relevance of this research.

The TDSB can work. It needs a solid governance model that Trustees can look to for guidance. It needs a sound organizational structure – so that staff can work efficiently with the ability to execute. And most importantly, it needs proper funding.

And finally, with respect to school closures: It is far more likely that trustees, parents, and communities will support school closures when there is an opportunity to transform “under enrolled” schools into important community spaces. The current dysfunctional system is a major contributor to bad decision-making, procrastination, and frustration for all stakeholders. There is an opportunity to create win-win options for communities under the mandate of the City-School Boards Advisory Committee – and Premier Wynne needs to support this initiative. It is in everyone’s best interest.  Thank you.

Principals are curriculum leaders – not boiler specialists!

Disrepair in public schools means that Principals and Vice Principals spend time and energy on repair issues that ought to be spent leading their schools. Principals and Vice Principals at many public schools end up spending several hours each week managing repairs at their schools and fielding complaints from parents about the disrepair. These are hours that could be much better spent. Principals ought to be curriculum leaders – not boiler specialists!

Unfortunately, most people blame Principals and Trustees for disrepair in their child’s school. However, the Province has only allocated $74.9-million to the TDSB this school year to address a $3.3-billion repair backlog. Even the most efficient and functional school board in the world couldn’t address a $3.3-billion problem when given an amount that equals only 2.3% of the amount required to address the problem. So by all means let your Principal and Trustee know about disrepair in your child’s school but direct your call to action to your MPP, Premier Wynne and Education Minister Sandals. Let them know that:

Per-student repair backlog makes urgency clear

All 72 Ontario school boards currently have a repair backlog, ranging from $7.4-million at Huron-Perth CDSB to $3.3-billion at the TDSB. On a per-student basis, the TDSB’s repair backlog breaks down to over $13,000/student. Ottawa-Carleton DSB, Thames Valley DSB and Greater Essex County DSB aren’t far behind with a repair backlog per-student of approximately $10,000 in each of these three Ontario school boards.

Issued in October 2014, “Reversing the Cycle of Deterioration in the Nation’s Public School Buildings” is a report on the impact of deferred maintenance in American public school buildings.  It reveals that, as of 2010, the average repair backlog per-student in American schools was $4,883 and that this reflected a situation in need of serious and immediate attention.

We’ve cited 4 school boards in Ontario that currently face a per student repair backlog more than double the American average. Kathleen Wynne – are you there? Your government must acknowledge this situation is unacceptable and untenable. Finding funding solutions to fix our schools deserves a place on your government’s agenda!