Toronto District School Board

Renewal Needs Backlog

The Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB’s) Renewal Needs Backlog lists 23,232 different repairs that have been identified in our 588 schools. The total value of those repairs is approximately $3.4 billion as of July 2016.

That backlog continued to grow because the TDSB did not receive adequate provincial funding to make the needed repairs. However, we have received additional provincial funding allowing us to invest $579 million in school repairs from September 2015 to August 2017. This will allow us to begin to reduce our Renewal Needs Backlog.

It is very important to understand that not one of these repairs represents a health or safety concern for our students and staff. In fact, it is because the safety of our schools is a top priority for us at TDSB that our maintenance plans are always focused on providing safe places for our students to learn. In that regard, we schedule maintenance to fix the most critical problems related to the health and safety of our students and staff.

Also, while components in a school building may be past their life expectancy, i.e. a water boiler, they are in good repair and meet all required safety codes.

Key Facts:

  • The safety of our schools is a top priority for us at the TDSB and our maintenance plans are always focused on providing safe places for our students to learn.
  • In that regard, we schedule maintenance to fix the most critical problems related to the health and safety of our students and staff.
  • Even with the additional renewal funds provided by the Ministry last year, our renewal needs backlog still sits at approximately $3.4 billion and continues to rise because the average age of our schools is over 60 years old and building components continue to age requiring major repairs or replacement. 
  • This renewal needs backlog and the number of schools on the critical list will not shrink until we are provided with adequate funding.
  • Unlike most other Ontario school boards, we are required to address the majority of infrastructure renewal and enrolment growth pressures from our own sources. 
  • The TDSB continues to ask the Provincial Government to provide Education Development Charges (EDCs) to fund new schools and school repairs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a Renewal Backlog and who identifies the value? 

Consultants, engaged by the Ministry of Education (EDU), perform inspections of school properties and identify building components which are due for replacement. They assign replacement values for these components. Due to the large number of schools, the consultants inspect each school approximately once every five years. Since the annual provincial funding is insufficient to cover the cost of replacing these identified components, a backlog is created every year. This annual backlog has been happening for many years. The aggregate total cumulative backlog for all TDSB active schools has grown to approximately $3.4 billion as of July 2016.

What is the Facility Condition Index (FCI) and how often is the FCI updated?

The Facility Condition Index (FCI) is the amount of a school’s renewal backlog divided by the school’s total Asset Replacement Value (ARV). The FCI is expressed as a percentage. The Ministry of Education updates the FCI when a school’s renewal backlog is adjusted after inspection and/or when the Ministry (EDU) updates the Asset Replacement Value.

What is the Asset Replacement Value (ARV) of a building?

Each school has a maximum number of students that it can accommodate. The ARV is the cost needed to completely rebuild a new school to accommodate the same maximum number of students. In other words, the ARV is proportionate to the number of students in a school. However, it is important to note that some of the features in the existing school might not be included in the new school. For example, if the existing school has a swimming pool, the new school would not have a swimming pool.

The FCI of my school is over 100%. How can that be?

Since the TDSB has a large number of older buildings, it has unique spaces in its schools, such as wide corridors, larger room sizes, parenting centres, lunchrooms, childcare facilities, swimming pools, auditoriums, etc., which are outside the scope of the Ministry’s Area Benchmark or ARV. Therefore, although some of the renewal backlog might be related to these spaces, the cost of the replacement school does not include these spaces or features in its design. This causes a lower ARV and subsequently a higher FCI. Although, the formula that EDU uses in calculating the ARV is applicable to most situations, there are instances where it results in a very low ARV. For example, we limit the number of special needs students in a classroom to only 9. Since the ARV is based on the number of students, it will be lower in schools that have many special needs classrooms, leading the FCI to be artificially higher than reality.

In addition, it costs more to replace individual building components when they have failed as opposed to constructing all the building components in logical sequence when a new school is built. For example, when a new school is built, the boiler that heats the school can be put in place before certain walls of the building are constructed. When that boiler needs to be replaced in an existing school it could require sections of the school’s walls to be removed and then rebuilt in order to have the appropriate space to put the boiler in place.

Is my school safe while the FCI is high?

A high FCI can be attributed to the age of building components and excessive spaces over the Ministry’s Area Benchmark. Proper maintenance of aged building components will extend the components’ life cycle without compromising safety. Conscientious effort is being made to repair building components where possible; where a component is beyond repair, it will be scheduled for replacement. Our staff works all year round to make sure that the schools are safe regardless of their FCI value. The health and safety of building occupants is considered the highest priority in planning school repairs.

Does the FCI determine where the Renewal Funding should be spent?

In an ideal world, the FCI would drive renewal spending. However, that is not the case with our schools because of the large renewal backlog we have in place. The prioritization of renewal projects is based on the condition of building components. We gather inputs from the school, facility team leader, maintenance history, statistical data, health concerns and safety needs. Then we repair or replace portions of building components to extend their life cycles. Building components that cannot be repaired are replaced with new ones. We also assign highest priority to repair or replacement of components related to health and safety.

How often does the consultant inspect schools? 

The consultant conducts school inspections approximately every five years. The consultant updates the repairs backlog for the current year and forecasts the additional backlog to be added each year for the next five years. When various repair projects are completed they are removed from the backlog.


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