Tag Archives: Liz Sandals

CTV confirms many TCDSB schools also in bad shape

CTV News reported on January 22 that almost half of the 200 schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board are in critical or poor condition.

Education Minister Sandals’ response to this report is frustrating. We’ve included our rebuttal to each of her quotes below using bold italics:

“It is the board’s responsibility to keep the buildings in good repair,” Minister Liz Sandals told reporters at a news conference in Guelph.  It is the provincial government’s responsibility to provide adequate funding to school boards to keep school buildings in good repair. With the levels of funding provided to school boards over the last 20 years, there is no possible way any school board could have kept its aging buildings in good repair.

“Their problem is they need to manage the money that they are receiving.” For 2015-16, Ontario School Boards are receiving less than 5% of what is needed to address their current outstanding repair backlogs. Could YOU fix $100 problem if you only had $5? Tough to be that efficient…

Sandals said the Toronto boards have greater opportunities than many other school boards in the province because they can make more money by selling schools where enrolment has dropped than in other cities, where real estate is cheaper. Selling schools takes a long time, is not always the best answer for a community (especially when Premier Wynne is actively pursuing using public assets as community hubs), and only offers a short-term and incomplete solution going forward. 

Sandals said Toronto’s public board has had its funding quadrupled in the last year. If your telephone bill has $100 outstanding and last month you only paid the telephone company $2, but then quadrupled your payment this month to $8… IT STILL ISN’T ENOUGH! 

She said the government has spent $13.4 billion in the last decade on new schools, retrofitted schools, additions and renewal projects. The government plans to spend another $11 billion over the next 10 years on the same expenses.

“If you add that up together, we’re looking at almost $25 billion going to school board capital. Minister Sandals is lumping together money spent on building new schools and additions with money allocated for maintaining existing schools. She is comparing apples to oranges. Only a fraction of the money required to keep our children’s schools in a state of good repair is being allocated by our provincial government and this must change if we want to see the $15-billion capital repair backlog in Ontario’s schools start to decrease … rather than continue to grow. 


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:

Minister Sandals & Barbara Hall both respond on April 22

Fix Our Schools received  this letter from Liz Sandals in response to our letter of April_13.

We received an email from Barbara Hall, Chair of the TDSB Governance Panel, on the same date as the letter from Liz Sandals, which read:


Thanks for your message, and for participating in the consultations on the TDSB. Our mandate was set by Minister Sandals, and it is to consult with the public and make recommendations to the Minister with respect to possible structural and governance changes within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). We will also explore the impact potential governance structures may have on operational decision-making at the TDSB for the Minister’s consideration.

Provincial funding for education is not in scope for the panel’s work. As you know, Margaret Wilson recently wrote a report to the Minister in which she expressed serious concerns about the culture of the board. In her report, Margaret Wilson identified that the TDSB, as a whole, has not worked effectively together to act in the interests of all students of the board. Effective, transparent, and accountable governance is essential to the success and well-being of students, and our panel is focused on making recommendations to the Minister that she will consider to help the TDSB move forward.

 We are consulting with the TDSB community – with parents, students, staff, trustees and other community members – to hear the best ideas and advice on how decision-making at the TDSB can be improved.


Barbara Hall

Barbara Hall’s email was in response to our email of April 14, 2015:

Hello Barbara, Richard, Briony, Vicki, Patrick, Shirley, and Jennifer –

After attending last night’s consultation, I am writing on behalf of the Fix Our Schools campaign to urge you to please include the topics of funding and the Provincial government’s role in governance in the remainder of the TDSB Governance Advisory Panel consultations. It has come to our attention today that this panel has the authority to expand the discussion to include these important topics.

The definition of governance given at the first consultation was: PROCESS FOR MAKING AND IMPLEMENTING DECISIONS. Nobody can argue that it is much easier to make and implement good decisions when a group has sufficient resources. Whereas if that same group faces continued scarcity, making and implementing good decisions becomes increasingly more difficult. The majority of participants last night expressed that having a real conversation about governance without including funding and the Province’s role as the sole funder of public education with power over policy decisions was nearly impossible and seemed disingenuous and blame-based, rather than solution-oriented.

So again, the concern is that the work of this Panel will not benefit 246,000 TDSB students and their families because it won’t address the issues that actually matter to parents such as:

– unacceptable state of schools, as reflected in the $3.3-billion repair backlog

– cuts to special education

– potential school closures

– overcrowding at 146 TDSB schools, which operate at 100% utilization or more

With a professional PR firm fully engaged, this consultation will easily cost taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If these consultations seemed solution-oriented and included a real focus on seeing the Province work with the TDSB to find solutions to the massive issues facing the TDSB, they would be a good use of money. Who knows? Maybe the panel would even hear feedback that citizens of Toronto would be willing to pay a local education tax to improve public schools! However, this panel, as it currently stands, is poised to be simply a distraction from addressing real issues.

Yesterday, with the understanding that the Provincial government had authority over the scope of discussion for these consultations, we sent the attached letter. However, with our new understanding that the people on this panel can choose to expand the conversation, we are also writing you. I have cc’d all included on yesterday’s letter so they are aware that, with this new understanding, Fix Our Schools is also writing directly to the TDSB Governance Panel about expanding the topics included in consultations. Our letter to the Province still, of course, stands with the four requests outlined below.

Recognizing that the next public consultation is imminent, we look forward to hearing back from you soon confirming your authority over the scope of the discussion and on how you intend to integrate the feedback from last night’s session and move forward.

Kind regards,

Krista Wylie – On Behalf of Fix Our Schools

250,000 TDSB students need the Ministry’s help

After reading yet again about the ongoing dysfunction (and possible corruption) at the TDSB, Fix Our Schools is urging the Province to please help TDSB students and get involved in working with Canada’s largest school board to address the massive challenges it faces.

The public school students of Toronto have been penalized long enough for the inability of the grown-ups in charge to work together. The TDSB is in crisis and we ask all TDSB parents to write the Premier and Minister of Education, asking them to step in and help get the mammoth ship known as the TDSB back on course.  To make it easy…

Email Premier Wynne & Minister Sandals

Letter to Premier Wynne & Minister Sandals

Email your MPP too – they are YOUR elected official at Queen’s Park!