Learned earlier this week that there appears to be a change in strategies afoot when it comes to the promotion of school expansions, renovations, green-energy projects etc.
This is the second (at least) year of a new way of looking at capital projects for school boards from the Ministry of Education perspective. Boards have a rolling capital plan and capital "liquidity template" they are constantly revising with the ministry. As they move through the approvals process with trustees, they eventually get to the point where they approve the capital project and layout the funding plan.
Regardless of the mix -- and boards can apply for provincial funding, use reserves from either disposition of property or capital -- the province now approves all the projects and the funding plans. This part makes some sense since the boards are 100% funded by the province and virtually the only money for capital that doesn't come from the Crown is leftovers from land sales. Land-sale revenues cannot be put back into operational budgets, they must be used for other capital or land expenses.
Over the past two years the pattern has been that the provincial legislature rises for the summer break and then the government farms out good-news education construction announcements to MPPs across the province. So Dave Levac (Brant) might announce millions in various types of grants to support a variety of projects in the Grand Erie / Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk educational district. Etc. From a pure communications perspective this was brilliant since it allowed each announcement to get local news hits from community papers and other more regional media, while giving MPPs, particularly backbenchers who are so rarely in the news, an opportunity to be tied to a good news project.
Well, capital funding grants aren't as splashy this year.
A local board I cover quietly got two "funding allocation letters" worth $41 million over two calendar days near the end of June. No flashy news release, no press conference. Just a letter.
That's quite a change from the past several years. One might wonder why.