Local school boards cope with Ford’s cuts to repair fund

Nick Seebruch
Local school boards cope with Ford’s cuts to repair fund
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ONTARIO – Ontario school boards were notified on July 3 of Doug Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government’s intention of cancelling the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Both English language school boards in the Cornwall and United Counties of SD&G region have said that they had benefitted from the program and used the program to finance green projects to repair their schools.

“Yes, the CDSBEO will be affected by this funding cut. Our allocation was $731K for the 2017-2018 year,” said Bonnie Norton, Associate Director of Education for the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario in an emailed statement to Seaway News. “Since we had not yet received notification of this grant for 2018-2019, we had not allocated any of the funds to schools for next year.  In 2017-2018, the full $731K was used on a very large project at St. Patrick in Rockland that essentially replaced the heating system at the school.”

The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) has also received funding through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program, but Director Stephen Sliwa states that the board will not be adversely affected by the cancellation.

“The Upper Canada District school board received approx. $1.3M in funding through Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funding for 2018-2019,” Sliwa said in an emailed statement to Seaway News. “The recent developments indicating the cancellation of this funding will not amount result in any specific hardship for the Upper Canada District School Board, since our school district has essentially spent all the funding prior to the government announcement.”

There were four UCDSB schools that had received funding through the program, South Edwardsburg Public School, Lyn Public School, Thousand Island Secondary School and TR Leger’s Smiths Falls campus.

Sliwa stated that repairs and upkeep to UCDSB schools will not be affected by the cutting of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, but that it will no longer be available for green projects, which is something that the school board is dedicated to pursuing.

“Improving building efficiency has been an on-going priority in the Upper Canada District School Board long before the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funding (GGRF) was introduced and there is nothing that prohibits us from taking the type of prudent steps that the GGRF promoted,” wrote Sliwa. “For example, the school board built Bridgewood PS in Cornwall in 2015 without any specific environmental funding, and it has recently was acknowledged as a “green” building through the internationally recognized LEED certification process. The school board will continue to invest in energy efficiency because it is a core part of our strategy to reduce our building operating costs and because it’s the right thing for us to do.”

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