SPACED OUT

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by Michael Czobit 

Even with a bigger bank balance, the extra cash Ryerson will get from the McGuinty government won’t replace or repair all of the school’s broken chairs, graffiti-inscribed bathroom stalls, and permanently marked dry-erase boards.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the $6.3 million from the provincial government is appreciated but it doesn’t cover more than 10 per cent of the needed repairs. “Cleaning up the campus, touching the deferred maintenance and making the school more accessible is only a small dent on a very large list.”

The cash is a share of the $250 million the province announced would be given to Ontario’s colleges and universities to spend on “deferred maintenance,” which, as Levy put it, concerns things that “people don’t see, but sure miss when they’re broke.”

And despite Ryerson’s large maintenance list — Levy said it could cost more than $100 million — the school won’t see any more of the government’s $250-million budget.

Of the nine universities and colleges in the Greater Toronto Area, Ryerson received the second least amount of cash. The University of Toronto received the most with $26 million, followed by York’s $12 million. Ryerson also received less funding than GTA colleges.

But it’s not personal. “It was not driven by how much they like you or how big your list is,” said Levy.

“It’s based on a formula,” said Tanya Cholakov, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Minister Chris Bentley was unavailable for comment.

The formula Cholakov cited comes from the Council of Ontario Universities’ (COU) report, “Inventory of Physical Facilities of Ontario Universities.”

Based on 15 space categories, the COU calculates the amount of space used by each institution. Using that figure, the $250 million was divided.

This method of dividing funding has been used since 1986. “There’s nothing perfectly fair,” said Levy. “No one has come up with anything better.”

Ryerson Students’ Union Vice-President Education Nora Loreto said Ryerson’s small share is a start but “it shows a large problem in the formula of how we get money.”

Loreto said Ryerson’s deferred maintenance has grown because the university continues to put money into new buildings rather than its existing ones. “If you have $100, and want a new building, the money goes to the new building.”

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