Liberals: $3 billion to save crumbling schools
Noted economist Hugh Mackenzie has revealed that $3 billion per year is needed to repair, maintain and rebuild Ontario’s schools. His comprehensive report shows that Ontario is faced with $15.9 billion of disrepair that has been allowed to accumulate in our schools over the last 20 years.
$3 billion per year is over double current provincial funding levels for school renewal. However this problem is just not going to get cheaper to fix if left unsolved. Surely 2-million Ontario children and adults deserve to go to school each day in safe, healthy, well-maintained buildings.
Commissioned by the Campaign for Public Education, Mackenzie’s comprehensive study of Ontario’s school repairs and maintenance backlog explains how Ontario’s 72 school boards have been forced to amass the whopping $15.9 billion backlog.
Building on the Mackenzie report, and in conjunction with Fix Our Schools Campaign, we at CPE have now launched a province-wide campaign to completely eliminate the repairs and maintenance backlog in Ontario’s schools.
The alarming state of disrepair in Ontario’s schools was actually highlighted in a 2015 Ontario’s Auditor-General’s report which detailed chronic government underfunding to the provinces 72 school boards.
“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 funding in the last five years has ranged from $150 million to $500 million.”
In the three years between 2011 – 2014, provincial funding to school boards for school renewal was only $150 million per year – roughly one-tenth of what the Auditor’s Report indicated was needed.
Because of the seriously inadequate Ministry public education funding formula, Ontario’s school boards have most been to forced to defer maintenance expenditures and renewal investments so as to protect school programs. This growing crisis was highlighted as far back as December 2002 in a report of the Education Equality Task Force (known as the Rozanski Report). That report identified a deferred maintenance backlog estimated at $5.6 billion and growing.
Despite several rounds of special funding aimed at school facility renewal over the ensuing 15 years, the backlog, as measured by the Ministry itself, has grown consistently, and is now $15.9 billion. (Although even this figure is an understatement. Of the 4,636 schools in the detailed database released in 2017, no data on renewal needs was reported for 346, of which 284 schools were shown as not having been assessed.)
Campaign for Public Education was founded in 2002 to coordinate efforts of parent, teacher, education worker and ethno-racial organizations in campaigning for needs-based funding for public education. f: campaign for public education t: #cpe_TO