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.
This graphic clearly illustrates what provincial funding for school maintenance currently looks like … and the results of this level of provincial funding. Premier Wynne: It really is time to Fix Our Schools.
Do you ever wonder if giving your kids more chores will make them more responsible and mature? What if you sent them to the store with $5.00 to buy $100.00 worth of groceries and they came back with a few boxes of crackers. Would you be complaining that they didn’t buy everything on the list?
No. You would take responsibility for the fact that, with the money you gave them, they couldn’t possibly have bought $100.00 worth of groceries.
For decades, the Minister for Education of Ontario has not taken just that responsibility. Decades of extreme underfunding means we have a province full of schools with boilers about to fail, roofs leaking and issues with structural elements. The poor quality of the school buildings is affecting the learning of our next generation.
In the last 5 years, the School Boards in Ontario have been given a fraction of what is needed to keep our publicly funded schools in a state of good repair. Imagine anyone holding Ontario school boards responsible for the shocking decline in the condition of our schools when the truth is they have been grossly and chronically underfunded by our provincial government. Every parent knows it. And Premier Wynne needs to take responsibility.
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.”
The following excerpt from the summary of the 2015 Auditor-General’s report confirms that Ontario’s provincial government has grossly underfunded public school infrastructure in our province for many years:
“An independent assessment calculated that the Ministry of Education needs $1.4 billion a year to maintain schools in a state of good repair. However, actual annual funding in the last five years has ranged from $150 million to $500 million.”
The $1.4 billion per year that is needed is for maintenance intended to KEEP buildings in good repair; and does not include the funding required to address the $15-billion of outstanding repairs that have been allowed to accumulate under provincial watch and funding for the past two decades.
If only some of the $37-billion that Ontarians have overpaid for electricity since 2006 has gone to repairing and rebuilding Ontario’s public schools, 2-million children would be attending schools that are in much better shape!
As Co-founder of the Fix Our Schools campaign, I just hit “send” on this letter to the Editor at the Globe & Mail:
Please accept the following submission in response to the Editorial entitled, “The 2024 Toronto Olympics? No thanks.”
In a world of finite resources, I’d invest in the children of this city
My son wore his winter coat at school this past winter because his classroom was 12-degrees. Last week, countless Toronto children would have worn as little as possible to cope with 38-degree heat and no air conditioning in their 50-100-year old schools.
To repair and rebuild Toronto’s public schools would cost between $4-6-billion. This investment would benefit over 350,000 children across four school boards, who spend 6 hours/day, 5 days/week, 10 months/year in buildings that all too frequently provide sub-standard learning environments.
To host the 2024 Summer Olympics would also cost between $4-6-billion. As much as I love the Olympics, in a world of finite resources, I would choose to invest in the children of this city. Let’s fix our schools.
Kind regards, Krista Wylie
In a world of finite resources, what would you choose?