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Renewal Needs Backlog

The Toronto District School Board’s Renewal Needs Backlog (RNB) list identifies approximately 21,500 different repairs needed in our schools. The total value of those repairs was $3.5 billion as of October  2020.

It is important to understand that these repairs  do not represent a health or safety concern. Safety is a top priority for us at the TDSB and our maintenance plans are always focused on providing safe places for our students and staff. In order to do that, we fix the most critical problems related to health and safety first. Also, while components in a school building may be past their life expectancy (e.g. water boiler), they are in good condition and meet all required safety codes.

Seventy percent of the building components in the current RNB are in critical or poor condition. Our limited funding does not allow us to replace all of these components as we use a big portion of the funding to temporarily repair them in order to extend their useful service life for another year or two. This does not mean that the repaired building component is removed from the backlog; it means that its replacement will be postponed.

The Ministry of Education’s consultant, who assesses the condition of TDSB schools, takes this into consideration when updating their database and postpones the replacement action for another year or two. Although this makes the RNB for the current year drop, it doesn’t impact the projected long-term backlog which could hit $5.0 billion by 2024.

 

Key Facts

  • If additional funding provided by the Ministry over the last five years is discontinued and/or reduced, and no additional funding is provided, we estimate that our renewal repairs backlog (RNB) would be as follow:

           January 2021: $4.2 billion
           January 2022: $4.5 billion
           January 2023: $4.8 billion
           January 2024: $5.0 billion

  • The Board needs predictable and sustainable funding for school repairs to allow the TDSB to continue implementing its long-term plan for renewal and lower the renewal needs backlog.
  • Lack of sufficient funding has a direct impact on schools operation.
  • Approximately seventy percent of the repairs we make over the year are considered “urgent” or “high priority”.
  • There are other potential sources of revenue to help with the backlog. One is Education Development Charges (EDCs). However, unlike most Ontario school boards, the TDSB does not qualify for Educational Development Charges (EDCs) because there is surplus space across the system, which puts the TDSB at a disadvantage.
  • Without the restrictions found in Section 10 of Ontario Reg. 20/98, the TDSB would qualify for EDCs and generate revenue of approximately $400 million over the next 15 years.
  • On May 2, 2019, the Ontario government introduced Bill 108 “More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019”, which includes amendments to the Education Development Charges (EDC) section of the Education Act. However, the proposed changes, if passed, won’t benefit the TDSB as it does not qualify for EDCs.

Learn more aboutFacility Condition Index (FCI) ratings and Education Development Charges (EDC).

How to View the Data

To find the RNB list for a particular school, please visit the Find Your School page and choose the name of the school. On each individual school web page you will see a ” Renewal Needs and FCI” link in the navigation menu on the left side of the page.  The data corresponds to 2020.

Sample Report

Heating Boilers - Boiler #1 Renewal Urgent
Exterior Windows - Original Building Renewal High
Fittings - Washroom Partitions Renewal Medium
Wall Finishes - Paint Renewal Low

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does the Renewal Needs Backlog keep increasing?

The Ministry of Education hires external consultants to inspect each school once every five years. That means that 20 percent of our schools are inspected every year. As part of this assessment, components that need to be repaired or replaced are identified.

Approximately 50 percent of our schools are over 60 years old and building components continue to age requiring major repairs or replacement. 

Years of underfunding for school boards school repairs, especially from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, saw the renewal backlog rise rapidly at the TDSB. In the last five years, we have seen a considerable increase in the annual provincial allocation to the TDSB, an average of $290 million per year. However, this increase hasn’t kept pace with the rapidly aging school facilities in need of major repairs or replacements. Approximately seventy percent of the building components in the RNB are in critical or poor condition,


Funding

School Year Provincial Grant Projected Backlog
2020-2021 $312 million $4.2 billion (projected as of January 2021)
2019-2020 $292 million $3.8 billion (as of January 2020)
2018-2019 $299 million $3.9 billion (as of January 2019)
2017-2018 $297 million $4.0 billion (as of January 2018)
2016-2017 $308 million $3.4 billion (as of September 2016)
2015-2016 $276 million $3.1 billion (as of September 2015)
2014-2015 $74.8 million $2.9 billion (as of September 2014)

Note: The funding we receive is based on a school year (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31).

 

2. How do you calculate the Renewal Needs Backlog?

At the beginning of the year, as requested by the Ministry of Education, we calculate the backlog for that calendar year.

As of January 1, 2020, the Renewal Needs Backlog (RNB) was $3.8 billion. 

As of December 31, 2019, the backlog was $3.5 billion, but if we add the $300 million needed for repairs in 2020, this amount increases to $3.8 billion. However, if we check the RNB in October for example, we would get a different value. The reason for that is that the RNB usually decreases as we complete projects and update our database over the year, and increases in January, when we add the RNB for that new calendar year to the backlog. See example below:

January 2019 $3.9 billion
October 2019 $3.5 billion
January 2020 $3.8 billion
January 2021 $4.2 billion (projected backlog)


The RNB was lower in October because a number of projects were completed, and the replacement of some building components budgeted for 2020 was postponed until a later time. The reason for that is that the Board repaired these building components, extending their life cycle by 1-2 years. Therefore, during the school assessment (see question #4), the Ministry of Education’s consultant removed their replacement cost from the current year’s backlog and added it to next year’s backlog. It is important to note that although the current backlog (as of October 2019) appears to be lower, the long-term values remain the same.

If additional funding provided by the Ministry over the last five years is discontinued and/or reduced, and no additional funding is provided, we estimate that our renewal repairs backlog (RNB) will hit $5.0 billion by 2024.

3. When do you update the Renewal Needs Backlog?

We have traditionally updated the backlog in September of every year; however, in January 2018, the database started considering the calendar year instead of the school year in assigning the action year for repair requirements. As a result, the TDSB now updates its RNB in January of every year instead of September.

The RNB value is dynamic and usually decreases over the year. See question #2 for example.

4. What are the 21,500 different repairs identified in the RNB list?

Every five years, an independent consultant hired by the Ministry of Education assesses the condition of each school based on a standard list of major building components. This list includes components such as roofing, heating systems, floor finishes, fencing, windows, parking lots, ceiling finishes, foundations, windows and building automation systems. In addition, the TDSB compiles a RNB list for each of its schools. To find the list for your school, please visit:  Find Your School .

 5. Does the provincial funding for the 2020-2021 school year include money for air conditioning?

For the 2020-2021 school year, the TDSB will receive $312 million in provincial funding. The total includes $264M of School Condition Improvement (SCI) funds and $48M of School Renewal Allocation (SRA) funds. The SCI funds must be used to replace/repair building components identified during the Ministry’s school inspections, helping to reduce the FCI of school buildings. The SRA funds may be used to install additional air conditioning units, but the majority of these funds are committed to higher priority projects. These include unplanned emergency and urgent replacement of building components such as heating systems, electrical panels, leaking roofs, etc. resulting from the Board’s large maintenance backlog, as well as, government mandated compliance programs.

6. Besides provincial funding, which other sources the TDSB has available for repairs?

TDSB’s main source of funding is from the provincial government. In addition, when the Board sells a parcel of land or building, it can use that money to address the renewal backlog. There are other potential sources of revenue to help with the backlog. One is Education Development Charges (EDCs). However, unlike most Ontario school boards, the TDSB does not qualify forEducational Development Charges (EDCs) because there is surplus space across the system, which puts the TDSB at a disadvantage.

The TDSB keeps advocating for the Ontario Government to amend the Education Development Charges (EDCs) regulation (20/98) to allow the TDSB to collect EDCs to help support urgent infrastructure needs and reduce overcrowding in high-growth areas of the city. Revenues from EDCs could generate approximately $400 million over the next 15 years, helping reduce both the FCI and RNB.

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