Thomson CI maintenance, labour and repair costs compare favourably for 2011-2012, according to statistics compiled by Globe and Mail newspaper

The Globe and Mail newspaper has done some detailed investigative digging and uncovered data on repair and maintenance costs at TDSB schools for the 2011-12 academic year.

Recent media coverage of this issue has focused on allegations of over-priced union labour that the TDSB is contractually obligated to hire, and tales of unionized maintenance/repair workers who falsify their work time-sheets and spend some of their paid time in leisure activities. The reports rocked TDSB, hurt the credibility of the organization at a time of massive budget deficits, and forced senior managers to pledge an investigation into the practices and abuses. On April 10, 2013 the Globe and Mail published a follow-up story that details the TDSB’s actions in response to this matter.

The Toronto District School Board is the largest school board in Canada with an annual budget of about $3-billion. While the TDSB employs salaried custodians, it spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year paying specialized union tradespeople to perform routine work, such as hanging photos, screwing pencil sharpeners to walls, or unclogging toilets.

The newspaper’s research shows that in 2011-12 David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute has a student population of 1,254 making it much larger than the TDSB average of 422 students. Consequently it also has a somewhat higher than average repair labour costs as compared to other schools in the TDSB. Its expenses rank 50th among TDSB schools with repair labour costs on file. The costs were disclosed as a result of freedom of information requests filed by the Globe and Mail.

TDSB records maintenance expenses in three main categories. Labour is for work performed by unionized staff, including travel time and any paid breaks. Contract costs are for work sent to approved outside contractors who provide specialty services or additional workers during peak periods. Material costs are recorded when parts and supplies are purchased.

TDSB officials told the Globe and Mail that specialty schools and those over capacity can be costlier to maintain. Schools operating under capacity may also have statistically inflated costs per student.

The following data regarding maintenance spending at Thomson CI is from the 2011-12 school year, the most recent data available and analyzed by the Globe and Mail:

• Total repair labour costs: $155,254.00 (TDSB average, $70,107.51)

• Repair labour costs per student: $123.00 (TDSB average, $389.31)

• School capacity: 1,254 students, 79 percent of maximum capacity 1,590 (TDSB average, 80 percent)

• Maintenance contracts: $27,122.00

• Cost of materials for maintenance and repairs: $50,826.00

These figures, when compared to other large schools, indicate that Thomson CI, despite being an older building, is not anywhere near the biggest spending school for maintenance costs in the TDSB.

The TDSB continues to struggle to justify inflated union labour rates while attempting to deal with massive annual operating budget deficits. Read the Globe and Mail’s follow-up story for details regarding the TDSB’s actions in response to these challenges.


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