Back to School: Facilities stretched with district at 98 per cent capacity

School District looking for new schools in Kelowna and Lake Country as enrolment is up yet again

  • Sep. 5, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Work is progressing on the Central Okanagan School District's new administration offices.

If, by the stroke of a principal’s pen, the Central Okanagan School District were awarded three brand new schools that magically appeared for this school season, those schools would open at capacity, filled with students in one of the province’s few school districts that is showing growth.

However school principals have only so much power, and building schools isn’t one of them, so the school district will continue to operate with its current schools and portable additions, until such time an announcement on a new school is made and that school is built.

Central Okanagan schools opened on Tuesday at 98 per cent capacity. Some schools are over-subscribed and others still have space, depending on location. But enrolment projections have the district poised to grow again this year, by as many as 300 students.

“In my opinion it’s always nice to be growing,” said school district secretary treasurer Larry Paul. “It’s harder to downsize than to upsize. The challenge is that we are at 98 per cent capacity so without getting any new schools it’s going to become more of a challenge. We have some schools sitting at 115 to 120 per cent capacity and we have some schools at 80 to 85 per cent.”

The top three priorities for new schools in the district are for a middle school to be located in The Pond’s neighbourhood of the Mission, a new high school for Glenmore that would be located near Parkinson Rec. and a new middle school in Lake Country to be located next to George Elliot secondary.

This is to say nothing of replacement schools, of which Rutland Middle remains the district’s top priority for replacement.

In a letter to the Central Okanagan School District, the provincial government is leaning towards building the two new middle schools first, likely due to cost. According to Paul, a new middle school would run about $35 million while a new high school would cost an estimated $60 to $70 million.

The province has asked Central Okanagan to move to phase two of development plans for the middle schools at The Ponds and in Lake Country, another step towards a potential announcement. But even after announcing a new school, it would take at least three years to build and open.

“The quickest I’ve ever seen a school built is 36 months after an announcement so it takes awhile,” said Paul, who added that moving to phase two of development plans is a clear indication that an announcement could be forthcoming. The government asked that the plans for the Ponds area be done by end of this summer and Lake Country by early next year.

“It’s not guaranteed but what (the province) is saying is we agree with you that there is a need and now we need to know exactly what the need is,” said Paul. “We will go into concept design and show them the increases in enrolment and what we are projecting for the areas. If the Ponds and Lake Country are supported, a new high school for Glenmore would move to our number one priority. If I could wave a wand and that 1,100 seat high school opened next week, it would open full. All three (new) schools would be full.”

In the meantime, Paul said the district will have to make due with its current schools as well as a series of closed portables that could be moved and re-opened to help alleviate over-cr

Just Posted

Okanagan makes Top 5 of least affordable home markets list

The Okanagan is the fourth least affordable place in Canada to buy property on a single income

Kelowna summit will connect employers and immigrants

A session will be held tomorrow from 12 to 3 p.m. at the downtown library

Suspected overdose, poisoning calls jump in Okanagan

BCEHS statistics show calls rose last year in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

West Kelowna resident missing

Police are concerned for the health and well-being of a 21-year-old West Kelowna man

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

Murder charge upgraded for man accused in Toronto gay village death

Man accused the death of a woman in the Toronto gay village had charge upgraded after new evidence

Traffic stop in Malakwa leads to arrests

Three in custody suspected of jewellery theft

Former NHL player Theo Fleury visits B.C. First Nations community

Abuse survivor Theo Fleury has been working with communities focusing on healing since 2009 and visited Esketemc First Nation in the Cariboo this week.

A B.C. council takes action in wake of former municipal politician’s sentencing

Dave Murray was sentenced to nine months for a sexual assault that occurred 26 years ago.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Peachland seniors club adds line dancing

Looking for something to do in your senior years? Check out the Peachland club

Most Read