The Central Okanagan Board of Education has not given up replacing Rutland Middle School.
Board chair Moyra Baxter said school trustees remain committed to pressing the district’s case despite the ministry of education not making it a capital cost priority.
“We’re in a bit of limbo right now as we shift from one government to another after the election, but we will continue to move forward on this,” Baxter said.
Baxter was responding to a letter presented at the Oct. 28 school board meeting from Marie Howell, president of the Rutland Middle School (RMS) parent advisory committee.
Howell voiced his frustration about the ministry confirming the capital spending priorities for the Central Okanagan School District being to find a new school site in the Wilden area and find a site and begin plans for a new Westside Secondary School.
“The ministry of education is failing the students, staff and families of this area of Kelowna by not approving a replacement for RMS….This disappointing decision can only be interpreted as RMS students do not matter to the ministry of education,” Howell wrote.
Baxter responded RMS is “not off the list,” referring to the school district’s Five Year Capital Plan required by the ministry to set spending approvals, noting the Rutland school remains the number one school replacement priority in the school district.
Along with the ministry’s capital spending priority placed on new schools rather than replace existing ones, Baxter added the ministry also cites the seismic upgrade requirements for Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island schools for stretching available capital spending dollars.
“I know (seismic upgrades) are a concern but so is replacing schools,” Baxter noted.
Trustee Norah Bowman said a recent BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA)n meeting she attended passed a series of emergency resolutions, one being for the government to base capital funding for new and expanded schools on a 10-year enrolment projection rather than current enrolment.
Bowman said the concern is the province is constantly lagging behind the need for schools in school districts where enrolment is on a consistent upswing.
She said something has to change when new schools are built and then quickly require portables to meet enrolment demand.
The Central Okanagan School District currently has the second-fastest growth enrolment in the province.
Bowman acknowledged, however, the BCSTA directive would not relate to the situation with RMS because it falls under the replacement school category not included in the resolution.