KAMLOOPS — As part of the budget update announced by the BC government yesterday, $681 million dollars has been earmarked for education - $177 million dollars of that is new money - meant improve classroom supports for children by adding up to 3,500 teacher positions throughout the province. The question now is how much, if any of that money is earmarked for School District 73?
Important promises, as Finance Minister Carole James, unveiled her government’s first update to the provincial budget, a budget which will see higher taxes for corporations and top earners in order to pay for improved services for a people - including a significant boost to education in the province.
“Hopefully that means we’re going to see new capital projects in SD73 and that mean’s we’re going to have more teachers,” Amanda Jensen, new Kamloops-Thompson Teachers Association President said.
According to School Board Chair Meghan Wade, there are some distinct needs within the district. While the details surrounding that new money have yet to emerge, Wade is hopeful some of that money will end up in the school board’s coffers.
“I’m very positive about the continued funding in education for growth that was announced. I don’t have a lot of details yet,” Wade talk CFJC Today.
Included in Monday’s announcement was an additional fifty million for capital projects across the province - which isn’t even enough to fulfil all of school district 73’s capital needs
“I find that very curious,” Wade said. “We have great capital needs in this district… $50 million is not a lot, though in addition to what was already announced… prior to the election. We got none of [that money]. I remain very hopeful that some of that $50 million will find its way into SD73.”
There are four major capital projects which require around $66 million. They include a new gym, and improvements at South Kamloops Secondary, a new elementary school in Pineview Valley, as well as an addition at Westmount Elementary; most importantly, an addition is needed at Valleyview Secondary, where the school population is expected to be at around 140% of capacity this year.
While ageing facilities continues to be a concern across the district, Jensen says the Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association is hopeful some of that money be made available to continue to improve staffing levels across the district
“Classes are still crowded,” Jensen said. “There’s still a significant need for more teachers in the system, whether it be in part-time or full-time work, or on our relief list.”
For now, everyone will wait and see where the additional funding will end up while continuing to work had to ensure the students are the number one priority in the district.
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