Tag Archives: New schools

Building new schools will help chip away at the $15-billion repair backlog in Ontario schools

The article entitled, “15 new schools slated to be built across the GTA: Ontario announces details of new schools slated for GTA, among a total of 28 set to be built across the province” by Andrea Gordon appeared in the November 1, 2016 edition of the Toronto Star.

School boards, communities, parents and students alike were excited to hear details about which schools were going to be built – or re-built. However, the $470-million being spent on building these new schools does not represent new money towards improving school infrastructure in this province. As per the 2016 provincial budget:

“Over 10 years, the Province plans to provide more than $11 billion in capital grants to school boards to help build new schools in areas of high growth, reduce surplus space through school consolidations, and improve the condition of existing facilities.”

Therefore, the $470-million announced for new school buildings, is really simply a report back to taxpayers on how money that has already been committed is actually going to be spent, as Fix Our Schools is quoted as saying in this Toronto Star article.

However, Fix Our Schools recognizes that building new schools is an important step towards decreasing the $15-billion repair backlog in Ontario’s schools. This massive repair backlog was allowed to accumulate in Ontario schools over the past 20 years, when provincial funding for school repairs was grossly inadequate, compared to the $1.4-billion per year that Ontario’s Auditor-General says ought to be allocated for school repairs in order to keep schools in good condition.

When Premier Wynne’s government announced additional funding for school repairs in June 2016, they finally brought annual funding for school repairs up to the $1.4-billion that ought to have always been allocated annually to keeping our children’s schools in good condition. However, this new level of funding does not allow school boards to deal effectively with the huge repair backlogs that have accumulated over the past 20 years. Therefore, new schools represent a tangible way to chip away at the massive repair backlog – since when a new school is built – the millions of dollars of disrepair that existed in the old school get written off the books!

Therefore, investment in school repairs and investment in building new schools are both important.

What should new school buildings look like?

299_232648Amelia Earhart and Gompers Elementary Middle Schools were both built in recent years as part of the Detroit Public Schools Construction and Modernization Program. Each earned the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver level award; incorporates the latest technology; and benefits from thoughtful design that takes into account:

• separate areas for JK-Grade5 and the Grades 6-8

• many well-placed windows allowing plenty of natural light

• colourful, exciting structural elements

• integrated Smart Boards 

• excellent lighting

299_476071Ontario needs to invest in the best education for our children, which includes quality school buildings designed to maximize learning and achievement. Let’s start imagining what our publicly funded schools ought to look like.

Imagine if all children attended a school like…

2016_April 18_Photo of Frank Hayden new school in BurlingtonDr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School in Burlington, Ontario?

Built as part of a community complex, this high school opened its doors in September 2013. As one student wrote in a Burlington Gazette article, “I’m so jealous. I fell asleep in the middle of my math exam in June of 2012. Why did I fall asleep? No air conditioning. Well at Dr. Frank J. Hayden High School they won’t have that problem. They have air-conditioning and I’ve heard it’s absolutely gorgeous. The whole school is new; and new is spectacular!”

Indeed, new is spectacular! While not all Ontario students can attend brand new schools, all Ontario students ought to attend school buildings that are safe, well-maintained and that provide an environment conducive to learning. Let your MPP know that you expect their government to provide sufficient funding to all Ontario’s school boards to address the $15-billion of disrepair that currently exists in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.