SD73 Board of Education to take next month to determine next priorities

By Chad Klassen
April 23, 2019 - 5:15pm

KAMLOOPS — School District 73 has received funding to expand Valleyview Secondary and is now looking towards its wants and needs for the future.

Over the next few month, the district and board of education will sit down and decide the top priorities for the district to propose to the provincial government.

"All across the South Shore, we have pressure points," said school district superintendent Alison Sidow. "Right now, McGowan Park [Elementary], in particular, has a number of portables, and that's because we're transporting 100 students from the Pineview area."

A new elementary school in Pineview is among the top priorities for the district. The last new build in Kamloops was in 2001 when Pacific Way Elementary school was constructed. 

"We think the [Pineview] community deserves that," noted Sidow. "This board has always advocated for neighbourhood schools. We've not been in a position to do that because of the development patterns in the city. But it's something we can look to in the future."

Among other priorities is Westmount Elementary, which, according to School District 73, is the most crowded school per capita in the area. Sidow says there's also land in Batchelor Heights that's being looked at for a potential future school. 

At the high school level, Sidow says Sa-Hali Secondary is at 100 per cent capacity and is soon to be in need of an expansion. But the board of education won't solidify its capital project priorities until it meets with City of Kamloops staff at the end of May. 

"It depends on growth patterns as well, and that's part of the reason why we're engaging with the city is to find out where are the developments going in, where does the city see growth patterns happening," said school board chair Kathleen Karpuk. "When you look at the official community plan, they're predicting 3-4 per cent growth throughout the Aberdeen area."

A new high school in Aberdeen may eventually be required in the next decade. In fact, 50 per cent of the schools across SD73 will need replacing in the next 20 years, according to the district. School trustee John O'Fee says a new school in Aberdeen would be nice, but from his past experience on the board it will take time.

"When you build a school, it's not a one- or two-year project. This is a building that should be around for at least 50, 60, 70 years, and so you have to look at the long-term growth prospects of an area," said O'Fee.  

In the short term, the district will determine its immediate priorities and lobby for more funding. Education Minister Rob Fleming, who was in Kamloops for earlier this month for the Valleyview announcement, says he will wait until the district submits its request before thinking about any additional funding.

The deadline for the district is June 30. 

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