TORONTO - The gross neglect and lack of funds to address serious potential health issues and the deteriorated physical condition of the grand old historic building are inexcusable. Since the 2017 / 2018 school year I have been a member of the Loretto Abbey CSPC and experienced the lack of response to repeated requests for action. The Board personnel responsible for repair and maintenance refused to meet for more than three of those years. Years of the building foundation leaking water resulted in more than three classrooms being shut down for mold infestation. This condition as well as many more building deficiencies were allowed to exist for more than my term on the CSPC.
The serious backlog of critical repair and maintenance to the school network was denied by senior staff at the Board on the 2021 – 2022 Virtual Budget Consultation on May 2021. In response to my direct questioning regarding the existing backlog of repairs and maintenance the participants of the virtual meeting were advised by the Director that he was not aware of any backlog.
There was also questioning of the Director regarding the percentage of the Expense Budget allotted to teaching and administration at the schools.
Over 85% of funds are required for teaching while less than 13% of the Expense Budget is allotted to the upkeep of 196 school properties ($730,000 per property).
It is an impossibility that the school network can be maintained, let alone upgraded as required to create an appropriate learning environment, with these available funds.
So now we find the student body at Loretto Abbey with in-person teaching being delayed due to overall roof condition and extensive water damage issues. A roof situation that had been identified more than 10 years ago. A roof condition that should have been identified when quotes were being developed and submitted for the air conditioning and ventilation systems.
This lack of professional conduct with the air and ventilation situation along with the 5 plus years of delays with the replacement of boilers, basement water leaks and mold infestation in the basement classrooms and student looker areas illustrate a very disturbing pattern that has jeopardized the wellbeing of the entire school community.
This is the situation in one of about 200 schools. How many more of these situations exist in the schools of the TCDSB?
Reports exist and are readily available back to 2016 that show more than $600 million in identified repair backlogs. That number has continued to grow in reports through 2018 and is now estimated at more than $1 billion.
The TCDSB Budget must be balanced by Law – 232 (3) “A board shall not adopt estimates that indicate the board would have an in-year deficit for the fiscal year” - Revenue = Expenses in year.
The growing problem must be accurately detailed, reported in the Annual Budget and a realistic actionable plan that addresses priorities around health and safety issue repairs finalized as quickly as possible.
Pic of Loretto Abbey from https://www.tcdsb.org/