The new Central Okanagan Board of Education has been saddled with the ongoing concern of what to do about replacing Rutland Middle School.
The planning and facilities committee will discuss the issue at Wednesday’s night meeting at 6:30 p.m., with no readily apparent solution in sight.
Board chairwoman Moyra Baxter said the RMS status is on the agenda largely to update the new board trustees about the dilemma facing the outdated school building, an issue that dates back to 2009. The building dates back to 1949.
“If we start putting a lot of money into the existing school for repairs, such as a new roof or new boilers, those expenses begin to pile up against the option of rebuilding the school,” Baxter noted.
School district staff says RMS requires considerable upgrades to most of its systems to bring them in line with current school facility standards. Maintenance and repair costs for the last three years totaled $653,879.
The school district proposed a plan to the Ministry of Education to convert Quigley Elementary School into a replacement for Rutland Middle School, with Quigley students diverted to surrounding elementary schools that had unfilled enrolment capacity.
The Quigley makeover would have cost $35.9 million, compared to building a new school at same site at $37.88 million.
Those talks carried on until a visit from ministry officials last year quashed the idea, saying the ministry policy is to not close existing elementary schools, along with a desire to build a new secondary school in West Kelowna emerging as a new priority for the district.
The district has spent years seeking an alternative site to build a new RMS. A potential site on farmland was rejected by the Agriculture Land Commission, and proposals to pair with other existing school sites, such as Pearson Elementary, were found to be unworkable.
Coupled with lack of a suitable site was the ministry placing a greater funding priority on building new schools where enrolment is projected to grow rather than renovating existing schools, another aspect that dealt a blow to the Quigley option.
Baxter said replacing RMS continues to be an issue vocalized by parents, venting their frustration about why everyone agrees the school needs to be replaced but nothing gets done despite it being a priority in the school district’s capital plan .
“There is a lack of progress on this right now so this will be an opportunity for the new board, at the committee level, to discuss how we might move forward on this,” Baxter said.