Most Saskatchewan schools need $1.3 billion in repairs, government document reveals

Fountains overflow at Argyle Elementary School in Regina in this undated file photo. Marlene Jackson / Global News

Most schools in Saskatchewan are considered to be in “poor” condition or worse, according to a government document released at a recent committee meeting.

The public document shows there are over $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance costs within Saskatchewan schools — which accrue when maintenance for buildings and infrastructure is put off.

“We know the buildings we got in our school systems vary from 100 years old to virtually brand new,” said Don Morgan, former minister of education who was speaking on behalf of the ministry Wednesday.

“The older ones are going to need continuous replacements of boilers, windows, roofs. Those aren’t trendy things to do, but we’re going to continue to work with school divisions to do that.”

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In 2013, the Government of Saskatchewan created a preventative maintenance fund to deal with the issue.

This year, around $60 million from the fund went to school divisions for their imminent maintenance needs. If the government were to maintain that level of funding, it would take roughly 20 years to repair all the ageing infrastructure at Saskatchewan schools.

NDP Education Critic Carla Beck called that shameful.

“When you look at that type of infrastructure deficit in our province and in our schools, not investing in it doesn’t make it go away, it actually exacerbates the problem,” Beck said.

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The MLA for Regina Lakeview would like to see at least two per cent of a school’s value invested in the preventative maintenance fund, opposed to the one per cent formula that exists now.

“Argyle [Elementary School in Regina] had a billboard of children’s art ruined by water running down the wall,” Beck said. “All of that lends to the experience children have in schools, and talks about how much we value our schools if we allow that to go on.”
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Morgan said the Ministry of Education will continue to work with school divisions to determine their needs.

“We try and make sure we do the best we can to have schools that are warm, dry and comfortable,” Morgan said.

Maintenance repairs are also funded through reserves within school divisions and emergent funding.

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