Making sure that Ontario’s school buildings are in a good state of repair is essential for supporting student achievement and well-being. Doing so requires a significant ongoing investment.
The Government of Ontario is committed to increasing the transparency of its historic investments in school infrastructure so that Ontarians can see the importance of this funding and the results it yields over time. That is why the Ministry of Education is pleased to release the Facility Condition Index.
The Facility Condition Index is a warehouse of data on each and every school’s state of repair. Information on school conditions is gathered in five-year cycles, the last of which took place from 2011 to 2015 (a new cycle is currently underway).
To get detailed information, the Ministry of Education hires independent, third-party facility inspectors. Each assessment team is comprised of two engineers — one with expertise in building design and construction, and the other with expertise in building systems (e.g., mechanical and electrical).
The inspectors review essential structures and systems for each school building. They also review wear and tear to building interiors.
Based on the findings of each school inspection over a five-year period, the ministry can determine a school’s repair and renewal costs. The cost of a school’s repair and renewal needs are then compared against the cost of rebuilding that same school from the ground up. The results of this comparison — fixing a school or rebuilding it — give the school its FCI, which is measured as a percentage.
Example 1: If the ministry estimates that rebuilding a school would cost $1 million, but repairing it would cost $100,000, that school would have an FCI rating of 10 per cent.
Example 2: Alternatively, if repairing that same million-dollar school were to cost $900,000, it would have an FCI rating of 90 per cent.
It should be noted that the ratings are a snapshot in time as of the date of inspection. The renewal needs and FCI rating can vary from the time of assessment for many reasons, such as investments made by a board to address renewal needs since the inspection.
A school with a low FCI rating needs less repair and renewal work than a school with a higher FCI rating.
Ontario has nearly 5,000 school buildings, the average age of which is 38 years old. Some of these buildings date back to the 1800s and early 1900s. These schools are a proud part of our province’s heritage, but as you can imagine, the older a building is, the higher its repair and renewal needs will likely be. As a result of Ontario’s aging school buildings, and a legacy of underinvestment in school infrastructure between 1980 and 2003, the average school’s FCI is 27.5%.
As the Auditor General noted, investments in school infrastructure have picked up in the last 10 years. In fact, the Government of Ontario has invested nearly $15 billion dollars to make schools better places to learn since 2003.
Currently, the province is in the midst of providing school boards with an additional $11 billion over 10 years to help build new schools in areas of high growth, reduce surplus space through school consolidations, and improve the condition of existing facilities.
In addition to the above investments, the Ministry of Education recently announced a historic $1.1 billion in additional funding over the next two years to repair and renew schools across the province. This funding is over and above existing funding of $1.6 billion during that same time frame, bringing the government’s investment in school repair and renewal $2.7 billion for 2015-2017.
This funding enables school boards to repair roofs, update HVAC units and modernize electrical and plumbing systems. It also helps significantly improve more visible elements of schools that impact students’ learning and well-being, including flooring, walls, ceilings, playing fields and more. All of these elements combine to influence a school’s FCI rating, and by investing in repair and renewal, a school’s FCI rating can be lowered and thereby improved.
With the five-year school assessment cycle now complete and the data compiled, the government believes it is important that Ontarians can access such critical information about their local schools. As the government commits significant investments toward school repair and renewal, Ontarians have the right to a transparent resource for determining the necessity of such investments, and also for monitoring the results of these investments.
To search for your school’s state of repair data, please see the Facility Condition Index.
For an in-depth review of the index, please see its accompanying Technical Paper.