Time SD73 got a fair shake on school upgrades

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
August 30, 2017 - 6:32am Updated: August 30, 2017 - 4:53pm

KAMLOOPS — This booklet tells an interesting story — it was announced by the School District 73 board of education this week and makes for some fascinating reading about how Kamloops schools have been shafted when it comes to provincial funding.

“Shafted” is my word, certainly not the trustees’. They’re more polite about it but numbers tell a shocking story about where Kamloops stands in the pecking order of access to capital funds for renewing schools.

For example, from 2001 to 2017, SD73 received $742 per student for capital infrastructure funding; the B.C. average was $6,888.

A new school hasn’t been funded in this district for more than 16 years.

During that time, B.C. schools have gotten $2 billion. Prince George and Vernon have received roughly half as much as Kelowna’s $114.7 million. Kamloops-Thompson has received $10.7 million.

Yet SD73 is one of the largest districts in the province and student population is now growing again.

Schools, of course, are much more than classrooms where kids learn reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. They’re neighbourhood and community gathering centres, used not only by parents and kids but sports and community groups.

The Kamloops-Thompson board of education is making a big ask to the provincial government but not an unreasonable one. It wants an expansion of Westmount elementary and Valleyview secondary, a new gymnasium and addition to South Kamloops secondary, and a new elementary school at Pineview Valley.

Math wasn’t my strength in school but it looks to me like a total of a little more than $65 million, which is a small start on catching up.

Our schools are over capacity and/ or long in the tooth and it’s time to do something about it.

The NDP this week promised to see the $417-million patient-care tower at Royal Inland Hospital through to completion.

Let’s see the new government spread some of that generosity into investing in school upgrades.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.