Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Education Minister Liz Sandals pictured on November 25, 2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The province will penalize school boards for holding on to underused schools in its next budget, an approach that will hit the Toronto District School Board harder than most.

The TDSB is still reviewing its funding allocation after receiving the numbers Thursday morning. It's too early for the board to know the net change over last year's budget, said a spokesman.

Education Minister Liz Sandals says the ministry's total spending of $22.5-billion will be the same as last year, but the boards will be hit financially if they're holding on to empty or near-empty properties.

Story continues below advertisement

"We will be focusing the funding this year on funding for programs and resources for students who are actually there," she said.

The cuts tied to empty schools will come from operational funding, said Ms. Sandals. That pool of money is relatively small within the total budget, so it's unclear how much the TDSB stands to lose.

The province is reorganizing other aspects of how it funds buildings and maintenance, and the TDSB will benefit from at least one of the other changes: an extra $83 million for routine maintenance.

Though Queen's Park is making clear its logic behind cutting operational funding, and its desire to hasten the sales of empty schools, it isn't creating new conditions forcing the boards to spend a certain way or to speed up those sales.

However, the board will be under extra scrutiny in other ways, said Ms. Sandals.

"We're not putting a lot of rules," she said.

"There will be a few things where we will be looking very carefully at how boards have spent the money."

Story continues below advertisement

Near-empty schools in northern and rural parts of Ontario will be spared the operational cuts if they are the only local options, Ms. Sandals said. Urban boards with a high rate of underused schools, however, are under increasing pressure from the province. This winter, at Ms. Sandals' instruction, the TDSB started reviewing a batch of schools for closure.

The process of merging and selling schools can take years. The operational cut may be phased in over several years; the province will explain those details to the boards on Thursday, said Ms. Sandals.

Ontario school boards with empty property already feel the monetary pinch that goes along with it, including the TDSB, which has been relatively slow to sell off its properties as the birth rate has declined.

About one-tenth of the province's schools are more than half empty, but the rate at the TDSB is higher. One-fifth of its schools are less than 65 per cent full, the board's benchmark for underuse.

Provincial funding has long been parcelled out mostly according to number of students, not by number of schools, which means boards need to stretch their budgets to cover extra maintenance costs. Boards with too many empty buildings also have trouble convincing the province to pay to build new schools in growing neighbourhoods.

Part of the operating budget "is currently allocated based on funding empty space," she said. She declined to say how much has generally been spent on maintaining empty buildings, or how much of that spending will now be eliminated at the provincial level.

Story continues below advertisement

Last fall, the Liberal government said it would cut as much as $500-million from the education budget in the next three years as it attempts to whittle down a $12.5-billion deficit.

The province spends about $250 million funding unused spaces at about 600 schools that are less than half full.

Ms. Sandals said next year's projected enrolment numbers are in, and they show continued decline in the total number of Ontario children.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies