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Report urges TDSB to close schools, reduce staff

TORONTO, Ont. – An independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers urges the Toronto District School Board to shutter 10 to 15 of its under-utilized schools and reduce its staff to curb its growing deficit that is millions of dollars over an initial estimate.

The report calls on the board the largest in Canada to outsource its security, grounds and construction services, cut 175 caretaker positions and 75 maintenance jobs and strengthen its accountability.


Read the full report here.

The recommendations could generate between $50-million and $92-million in savings over the next two years.

The report was requested by the TDSB and commissioned by the province. An initial estimate pegged the board’s capital deficit at $30-million but the PwC report suggests it is facing a deficit closer to $62-million.

In Numbers

  • TDSB estimated capital deficit for 2013-14 academic year – $30-million
  • PwC estimated capital deficit for 2013-14 academic year – $62-million
  • PwC estimated savings by 2014-15 academic year if TDSB implements report recommendations – $50-million to $92-million
  • Percentage of repair and maintenance work that exceeded budget – 39 per cent
  • Average number of paid days lost in 2011-12 academic year – 18 (elementary), 13 (secondary)
  • Total paid days lost in 2011-12 academic year – 351,552
  • PwC estimated supply teacher expenditure for 2012-13 academic year – $55-million
  • Schools below 25 per cent utilization – 12 to 15
  • Schools below 75 per cent utilization – 34 to 75

“We have an opportunity to really get this organization on firm financial footing,” Director of Education Chris Spence said.

“We’ve made some difficult decisions and we’re going to continue on that path take these recommendations very seriously,” he said.

The report criticizes inflated costs for maintenance.

“Unionized maintenance is operating well below capacity and productive ‘wrench time’ is a small portion of time spent overall,” the report says.

“Of the maintenance work orders that were budgeted, 39 per cent exceeded the budgeted amount.”

It also says the average elementary school teacher took 18 paid days off in the 2011-12 academic year. High school teachers took an average of 13 paid days off.

The TDSB’s supply teacher expenditure is expected to be close to $55-million for the 2012-13 academic year, according to the report.

The report recommends changes to the organization of senior-level management and suggests a lack of capacity to spearhead financial and operational changes.

“Current senior level organizational structure lacks sufficient checks and balances to ensure that accountability is enforced effectively,” the report says.

The report also says that the board operates about a dozen schools that are below 25 per cent utilization, and up to 75 that are below 50 per cent utilization.

After reviewing the report, Education Minister Laurel Broten offered the TDSB a special advisory team to get its spending under control.