Government attempt to excuse crumbling schools just plain wrong

With parents, teachers and the Opposition expressing serious concerns about run down and neglected schools, the government is patting itself on the back Friday for its 2014 education infrastructure spending – which included a $23.5 million cut.

Friday, it issued a short and vague list of school repairs undertaken in the last two years in defense of growing criticism.

“Kids and students don’t need a weak defense – they need their schools fixed,” said Opposition Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Parents and teachers are rightfully asking, after a decade of resource wealth, why don’t we have better school buildings all over the province? Where did all that money go?

“Good schools are a priority for families – but the Sask. Party government has been spending on its own pet projects, instead, and letting schools get very run down. Putting out a media release to pat themselves on the back for the little bits of maintenance schools were able to afford, while dismissing the growing and very real problems in schools, is just wrong.”

Wotherspoon pointed to major structural problems, cracks in walls and a library floor that’s nothing more than subfloor because the moldy carpet was ripped out years ago and never replaced. Saskatchewan School Boards Association data shows that 75 per cent of all schools roofs in the province will fail by 2018. The independent provincial auditor reported in 2013 that the government was spending far too little to repair and upkeep schools – and that was before the government made its cuts this year.

The amount required to complete the much-needed repairs in schools has grown to at least $1.5 billion. But the government says the list of schools in trouble is a cabinet secret, and refuses to share it with parents and teachers.

“The list of repairs needed has grown to $1.5 billion – and that doesn’t include structural inspections on all of the older schools,” said Wotherspoon. “It’s disturbing that schools have become so run-down during such good economic times; and it’s equally disturbing that the government is hiding the list of repairs that are needed from parents and teachers. What doesn't the Sask. Party government want parents to know?”