Restored facility grants boost SD20 coffers
School District#20 received a welcome announcement last week to the tune of a near half million dollars. The turbulent Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) awarded by the province jumped up to near-historical levels as part of a total $110 million dollar announcement by the Ministry of Education.
The grants themselves are for school districts to conduct maintenance and refurbishment to extend the useful life of school buildings. AFG funds are generally intended to cover school upkeep costs, but can also be used for projects that help enhance school facilities, improve staff and student safety, increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs.
The grant is broken down into to contributions; capital expenses and operating expenses. The total amount granted to School District 2 for the 2011/2012 school years was $911,727, broken down as $580,190 for capital and $331,537 operating. That $911,727 represents a return to 98% of the historical funding levels of the grant from 2008/2009.
Since that year the amount has fluctuated annually. In 2009/20010 the district received $0 from the grant until near the end of the school year when in April of 2010 they received half of the previous year’s contribution, $464,152. The following year slightly less was received with a grant totalling $447,575.
“I am happy to announce today that we are restoring the annual facilities grants so school districts can plan for summer maintenance and repair work,” commented Education Minister George Abbott. “Ensuring clean, safe and appropriate places of learning for students is an important part of our government’s Families First agenda.”
While the “restoration” of the annual grant almost brings the level of funding back up to previous levels, it still remains lower than the contribution made four years previously. Just the same, local officials aren’t complaining about the increase.
“It’s less than we’ve received in the past, but it’s certainly an increase over last year which is an improvement,” commented School District#20 Superintendant Jean Borsa.
Because the Ministry grants money to each district without requiring a work plan or application, there are currently no specific plans yet in place for what the money will be used for locally. However, SD20 treasurer Kim Morris explained that, “The funds are targeted to capital projects (greater than $5,000) for the maintenance of district buildings like roofing, plumbing, painting, heating and cooling, technology infrastructure, window replacements etc. “