Local company to build classrooms for Interior schools

Elementary students at 14 schools in the Interior will find themselves learning in truly home-grown classrooms come September.

Elementary students at 14 schools in the Interior will find themselves learning in truly home-grown classrooms come September.

About 30 of B.C.’s bright new modular classrooms will be built in the Okanagan by Freeport Industries in Kelowna, and most of them will remain in the region once construction is complete.

The others will be shipped to northern school districts awaiting new space for full-day kindergarten in the fall.

For Freeport, the classroom project will create some 25 new jobs for the company.

Shelter Industries hired Freeport as part of its $30-million contract with the province to build, deliver and install 140 modular classrooms in B.C. school districts by September 2011.

In all, 21 modular classrooms will create space at schools in the Interior—15 in the Central Okanagan School District and three each in the Okanagan-Skaha and North Okanagan-Shuswap school districts.

While these classrooms will be constructed at the Freeport plant, Shelter Industries, based out of Aldergrove, is responsible for the overall project, including the delivery and installation of the new classrooms.

“The partnership between industry and government is once again bringing jobs to the Interior and helping local families and the economy,” said Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart.

“It’s great to know that elementary students in several Okanagan schools will learn and grow in classrooms that were built right here in the region by local workers.”

Harold Clifford, chief operating officer for Shelter Industries, said the firm is happy to be working with Freeport.

“This sub-contractor agreement with the Okanagan plant has provided both of us with opportunities that we might not have otherwise seen, and this project will have profound economic benefits right across the province,” Clifford said.

Todd Venier, chief operating officer for Freeport Industries, added: “Thanks to Shelter bringing us in on the modular classroom project, we have added an extra 25 full-time jobs to our local economy. We are thrilled to be working with Shelter and the (education) ministry on this important project.”

The modular classrooms are part of the province’s $144.5-million capital plan to provide classroom space for the about 40,000 students expected to enter full-day kindergarten across B.C. in 2011. In October 2010, Shelter Industries signed a $28.5-million contract with the education ministry to design, build, deliver and install 133 modular classrooms for school districts across B.C. to help support the introduction of full-day kindergarten programs.