Sask. NDP says province is putting student safety at risk

Watch above: As students celebrate the end of another school year, government critics are calling for money to fix aging infrastructure in rural institutions. Amber Rockliffe looks at the issues and gets the government’s response.

ROSTHERN , Sask. – Saskatchewan’s opposition party is sounding alarm bells over the condition of several schools. Documents obtained by the NDP through a freedom of information request outline serious structural problems at Rosthern High School, Rosthern Elementary, and Colonsay school.

The documents say Rosthern High School has a rotting roof, and drywall is falling from the library ceiling.

“When I see in black and white talk about rotting roofs in danger of collapse, about gym walls that are not structurally sound, about foundations and pads that are sinking, to me that’s serious,”  NDP Leader Cam Broten said Thursday.

Broten claimed the government denied the Prairie Spirit School Division funding for the repairs, because they are considered ‘pre-existing conditions’, and don’t make the cut for the emergency funding pool.

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“The government is using legalese and ridiculous excuses, talking about pre-existing conditions, as rationale to deny and to be unwilling to fix serious repairs,” Broten explained.

READ MORE: Saskatoon area school divisions will operate with budget cutbacks

In a statement, the province said it inherited many of the infrastructure problems from the previous NDP government.

The province said it boosted its preventative maintenance and repair (PMR) fund for all school boards by 28 per cent over last year to $4.6 million; however the NDP claims it’s not enough. Broten said the PMR fund for the whole Prairie Spirit School Division is $1.3 million, and the three schools alone need $5.2 million in immediate repairs.

The government said it created both funding pools so preventative projects wouldn’t have to compete for the same dollars as urgent projects.

Prairie Spirit officials said the division has ‘done its due diligence’ in conducting structural reviews and ensuring students’ safety.