Friday, June 24, 2011

Reading into the next 10 years

The Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure released its 10-year plan for infrastructure growth in the province earlier today.
Of particular interest to me (of course) was the section on education. The overwhelming theme I keep hearing in this part of the province, which echoes my own suspicions, is that after the current round of school-closure reviews is completed, there will be next to nothing available for school boards to do capital improvements to schools not related to implementing the full-day kindergarten program.
I liked this chart, which I've embedded off the online report's page. Enrolment vs. investment in capital.

To quote from the report:
Moving forward
Over the next 10 years, Ontario will work with school boards to:
  • Ensure a system of elementary and secondary schools that meets present and future needs.
  • Continue capital investment to support underserved French-language rights-holders.
  • Base renewal funding decisions on school condition assessments and asset management plans, and work towards setting state-of-good-repair targets. This change will enable school boards to undertake projects to address the backlog of repairs in the most cost-effective way.
So this means more French-language schools in communities that have the demand for them -- mine is included as the board is about to open a brand-spanking-new K-12 facility for approximately 350 students. The province is in the midst of updating its databases on school condition assessments and boards have been working on these elements as well as they submit their business cases for capital funding to the ministry.
Consolidations and closures will likely still exist in the education vocabulary. This also shows a focus on modernizing learning spaces, recognition there's still a lot of school buildings out there built in the 1950s and early 1960s that have been superceded by more modern learning spaces that are more amenable to the tools teachers and students use inside and outside the classroom today.


TDSBteacher said...

I was surprised to learn that we will be getting an addition to our building to accommodate the all-day K program. We already have 5 portables, 8 kindergartens and no available classrooms, but schools not too far away are under-enrolled so I figured that boundaries would be re-drawn to send students to other schools.

However, maybe transportation costs or other factors are involved. So for the K alone we need 4 more classrooms (with washrooms) and doubtless the portables will be replaced by in-building classrooms (5 more). Our enrolment has been steady or growing every year.

Demographics, what fun.

However, I remember some years back when a number of downtown (old TBE) schools were closed and leased out --Niagara, Shirley and a few others -- but with population changes those spaces were needed again and turned back into schools. The same thing happened in Etobicoke and no doubt elsewhere as well. We need to be careful not to sell off too much property in areas with currently declining enrolment where it will be next to impossible to rebuild or reopen if population shifts occur again (and they will).

Rural schools have different issues, but there is a limit to how far it is feasible to bus young children. I can see a place for some online programs here, as they have in the Australian outback, but I'm not sure how practical or useful those would be with the little guys.

Education Reporter said...


Interesting comments. Demographics are fun, but they're very, very predictable. A good demographer can adequately predict exactly how many K registrations will come from a given attendance area in any year.

After all, the kids exist for four years before they enroll in school for the first time.

Surprised at TDSB as always. Just don't understand how the system can keep running so many schools. Yes, it's the largest (by pop) school board in the province, but not by that much. Peel, Durham and York have almost as many students but far, far fewer buildings.



Anonymous said...

TDSB isn't solving a future problem by keeping its buildings, it's frozen by political ineptitude and a desire to live in the past. It is one of the few boards that has not adjusted to the economic realities of the funding formula (oddly enough, the others that haven't are all large urban boards which had enormous local ratepayer potential, and used it - see Ottawa as another example).
TDSB is sitting on a pile of real estate that it should be selling off and using the proceeds for capital upgrades and better cleaning and maintenance of the buildings they actually need.