School District calls on NDP to provide funding for more classrooms

By Vanessa Ybarra
August 31, 2017 - 6:17pm Updated: September 1, 2017 - 5:20am

KAMLOOPS — Ministry of Education stats show in the last 16 years Kamloops has received $10.7 million in funding.

In the same time period, Kelowna has received almost ten times that amount, just under $115 million, the most of any district in the province.

Victoria received $96.2-million in the same time period.

With some schools in Kamloops operating at close to double their capacity, the district is putting pressure on the NDP government to send funding where it's needed most.

Come next week, more students can expect to be in portables at Valleyview Secondary.

"This summer we brought in eight new portables spread throughout the City of Kamloops," said Art McDonald, Director of Facilities and Transportation for School District 73.

Two of those new units have been installed at Valleyview Secondary which now has eight portables.

The school remains the most high-capacity school in the district at 130 percent, the district projecting 170 per cent by 2021.

"We're still seeing spots in the city that are growing and we will need more portables going forward," said McDonald.

The district is projecting a 14-thousand student enrollment for this school year, Valleyview, Westmount, and Juniper Ridge some of the  areas facing the greatest student crunch.

The school board chair says solutions to fixing the problem are limited. 

"There is nothing more we can do, " said Meghan Wade, Chairperson for School District 73. "At this point it comes down to investing and that's what we're asking the province to do."

The district recently presented a brochure to the Ministry of Education outlining how Kamloops received just under ten per cent of the funding compared to Kelowna throughout the Liberals 16 year reign.

Wade hopes it will propel the new NDP government to invest more in the district.

A new school is needed in Pineview as well Valleyview Secondary and Westmount Elementary require more classrooms.

"Schools are an investment in our community," said Wade. "This isn't just a school board district issue, this is a community issue. We're looking to the community to help and support us in presenting the case of the needs of this district."

As for McDonald, he's cautiously optimistic change will come to Kamloops schools anytime soon.

"Until I see an approval letter from the ministry I can't really comment any further," said McDonald. "The school administration has done a good job of using every space within our buildings. It will be portables until our capital projects are approved."

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