07/11/2013 04:15 EDT | Updated 09/10/2013 05:12 EDT

TDSB's capital funding freeze lifted by Ontario

The Ontario government has lifted the freeze on capital funding for the Toronto District School Board, paving the way for the board to potentially continue with construction projects.

The province ordered the freeze on capital funding last year, after building projects went over budget, in particular a renovation plan for the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Regent Park that saw cost overruns amounting to $7 million.

In a statement released Thursday, Education Minister Liz Sandals thanked a special assistance team for helping the TDSB "address capital and operating challenges."

With their help, Sandals said, the board was able to make "significant progress" towards a vision for capital planning that was more in line with the ministry's priorities.

'Much more work to do'

Sandals cited the TDSB's passing of balanced operating and capital budgets for the 2013-14 academic years as positive signs, as well as the approval of a three-year capital plan.

"As a result, we are lifting the freeze on capital funding for the board," she said. "This will allow the TDSB to once again develop and submit capital project proposals and business cases to the ministry, which will be considered alongside capital proposals from school boards across the province."

Former York Region director of education Bill Hogart led the assistance team, supported by Ralph Benson, also with the York Region District School Board.

Sandals said that upon reviewing their report, it is clear that while progress is being made, "there is much more work to do."

The minister said she would still like to see the TDSB implement other cost-saving measures recommended in a report last November by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"It is vital that the TDSB build on the good work they have done with the special assistance team and continue to seek further opportunities for improvement," Sandals said.