Rainbow Board set to receive $21 million to repair and renew schools

RAINBOW DISTRICT—The Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) will receive over $21 million in funds from the provincial government through a funding announcement of  $1.1 billion made last week to repair and renew schools across the province so that they continue to be safe and modern places for students to learn.

“Investing in our schools is one of the most important infrastructure investments we can make for nearly two million students in Ontario,” said Mitzie Hunter, minister of education. “Our government believes in better buildings for better learning and well-being. Making sure schools across the province are in a state of good repair is an essential part of supporting student achievement. The investment announced today (Thursday, June 29) is great news for students, educators, communities and the economy.”

The Ontario $1.1 billion investment builds on $1.6 billion in existing funding that has been allocated for repairs and renewals over the next two school years, for a  total of $2.7 billion. The funding will enable school boards to repair roofs, update HVAC units and modernize electrical and plumbing systems. It will also significantly improve more visible elements of schools that impact students learning and well-being, including flooring, walls, ceilings, playing fields and more.

Mr. Blaseg, director of education of the RDSB, told the Recorder, “it is good news, and the announcement was for provincial funding being allocated over two years, the current year, and 2016-2017. So for 2015-2016 we went from $5.3 million in funding to $10.1 million; and for 2016-2017 we will receive just slightly over $11 million dollars. This is all related to the school condition index. And then there is a renewal amount, so we will be receiving an increase of $395,000 for 2005-2016 and an almost $376,000 increase for 2016-2017.”

“The $10 million this year and $11 million dollars next year is great news, everyone always needs more funds, but over the long term it is still a small amount of what we actually need,” said Mr. Blaseg.

Mr. Blaseg pointed out this past January the RDSB had put forward a capital plan expenditures report (which includes both Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) and Charles C. McLean Public School, having work done on their building roofs  this summer. MSS has a five-year accruement of $15 million (funding needed for work), Central Manitoulin Public School $2.9 million, C.C. McLean $4.7 million, Little Current Public School $4.1 million, and Assiginack Public School about $1.6 estimate five year capital projects based on the school condition index.”

“Can we afford to do all the work that has been cited that is needed at all our schools with the funds we have, absolutely not. But this is a  good chunk of money to get started,” said Mr. Blaseg. He said the RDSB is giving priority to roofs, boilers, windows and any health safety provisions.