School Building Closure and Disposal
Date came into force or revised
September 3, 2008
If a Board of Education no longer requires property for educational purposes, the Board must seek the approval of the Minister prior to disposing of the property by sale and transfer or by a lease of 10 years or more, unless the Board is selling or leasing land or buildings to another board (including the Conseil scolaire francophone) or independent school for educational purposes.
Boards of education must engage in broad consultation and in enhanced planning regarding underutilized school buildings and other property owned by boards prior to property disposition.
Rationale or purpose of policy
The Ministry of Education and boards of education have an expanded mandate for early learning. Government made a 2008 throne speech commitment to study the possible implementation of all-day kindergarten for five year old children and optional all-day programs for three and four year old children. Future school space requirements related to these new initiatives must be considered prior to disposing of currently underutilized or surplus property.
School buildings and property are also valuable public assets that can become centres for delivering education and community services that meet the vital needs of the community. Available school space should be available for alternative community use; for example, early learning, child care services, adult and industry training education programs, family resource centres, seniors’ centres, public libraries, health care and therapy services, local social services, community recreation programs.
School closures and disposal of school board property are guided by two Ministerial Orders: The School Opening and Closure Order, and the Disposal of Land or Improvements Order. These Orders are made under the authority of the School Act, sections 73, 168(2) (p)(t), and 96(3).
Policy in full
The policy outlines the terms and conditions that the Minister will consider in the approval of a board of education’s request to dispose of real property. The disposal of real property includes the sale, exchange or lease of 10 years or more of land or improvements or both.
Boards of education must consider potential space needs for early learning programs in the future. Available school space will be needed to accommodate these and other programs.
School buildings are a valuable asset where communities may find new uses, now and in the future. Boards of education must consider potential needs for alternative community use.
With respect to surplus or underutilized school space, the board must consult with local government, community organizations and the public on alternative community uses. This consultation process must include:
- Consideration of future enrolment growth in the district, including Kindergarten to Grade 12, adult programs, and early learning;
- Consideration of alternative community use of surplus space in school buildings and other facilities; and
- A fair consideration of the community’s input and adequate opportunity for the community to respond to the board’s plans for the school.
Only in exceptional circumstances should a board consider permanently disposing of school property. Without the approval of the Minister, a board may only sell land or buildings to another board (including the Conseil scolaire francophone) or independent school for educational purposes. A board may lease property for under 10 years according to its own policies and procedures to an entity for an alternative community use.
The Minister may approve a sale or lease of 10 years or more to an entity for use other than alternative community use. When such exceptional circumstances occur, a board must confirm that the board will not require the land or improvements for future educational or community purposes.
School property disposed of to an entity for use other than an educational or alternative community use must be sold through public tender or other competitive bidding process to ensure fair public access and market value is obtained.
School property disposed of to: another board (including the Conseil scolaire francophone) or independent school for educational purposes; or local government or community organization for alternative community use, may be sold at less than market value.
"Educational purposes" means a use for delivering the k-12 educational program as well as any new educational initiatives such early learning.
"Alternative community use" means a use by a community agency or organization for land or improvements, owned by a board, other than for the educational purposes of the board.
"A lease of 10 years or more" means a lease of 10 years or more, including the cumulative total of all options and rights to extend or renew the lease.
Procedures related to policy
Details of required procedures, including bylaw requirements and notification to the minister, are set out in the two Ministerial Orders listed above.