SD73 Chair says new rules could mean new schools

By James Peters / Chad Harris
September 21, 2016 - 4:25pm

KAMLOOPS — School District 73 Board Chair Denise Harper says an announcement from Education Minister Mike Bernier today could be the key to seeing new schools built in Kamloops.

Bernier announced the ministry will no longer rely on a utilization formula to determine if a community needs a new school built, but will approve new schools on a case-by-case basis.

“There has been a great deal of confusion about utilization targets lately – much of that confusion driven by misinformation pushed out by various parties. We are ending that confusion today by getting rid of utilization targets as part of our school investment process," explained Bernier in a news release.

Harper says that formula has denied Kamloops new schools in the past.

"We had the bizarre situation where we had students on one side of the city, and when we explained that we needed space they said, 'But you have space in a school on the other side of the city'. It's nonsense, It doesn't make any sense at all, and I am grateful the Ministry [of Education] is changing its approach," said Harper.

Harper says in addition to a replacement for South Kam Secondary, the district also needs an addition to Westmount Elementary and a brand new school in Pineview Valley.

"Westmount needs an addition. Of course South Kamloops Secondary needs to be replaced. If the city is correct in their projections that the growth in upper Aberdeen will definitely need a new school in Pineview Valley."

She notes 80 per cent of the district's schools are 40 years old or older, and half of them have reached the half-century mark.

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