NDP calls for a plan to repair schools

Opposition wants to know how many schools have structural and roofing problems

Saskatchewan has a problem with run down schools, and the NDP is calling on the government to come clean on how many schools have structural or roofing problems and create a timeline for repairing them.

According to the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, 75 per cent of all school roofs will fail in the next five years. Inspections in the Prairie Spirit School Division revealed at least five schools in that Saskatoon-area division are no longer safe for children because they’re crumbling. Some of those schools have been propped up with temporary supports.

“After a decade of prosperity, it’s absolutely mind-boggling that we don’t have the best education system in the nation,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “But, sadly, this government has neglected schools to the point that roofs are leaking and walls are being propped up. We can’t keep going like this. We need a full, transparent list of schools with structural and roofing problems, and a prioritized schedule for tackling those repairs.”

The independent provincial auditor criticized the government’s failure to have a proper capital planning list in 2013, and highlighted the need to have a province-wide priorities-based plan in place to address the growing problems.

“We all wish these repairs would have been done over the last five years, but now we need a go-forward plan,” said Wotherspoon. “A realistic schedule for getting the repairs done is crucial, because ignoring problems and making up the priorities list as they go is what got us here in the first place.”

Wotherspoon stressed the need for the government to be proactive. “Either not knowing or not telling parents and teachers when a school’s structure is becoming a problem is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

Wotherspoon also agrees with the provincial auditor on financing – using alternative financing, including public-private partnerships, means taxpayers pay more and typically wait longer. The NDP is also opposed to private companies operating or managing schools in Saskatchewan, because it means much less accountability to taxpayers and parents.

“This is fundamental to our children’s safety, and to creating a comfortable environment that is focused on learning,” said Wotherspoon. “It’s time to build and repair the schools our kids need and deserve – and to learn from this mistake, so no government ever lets the problem get this bad again.”

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus