A mother in Kelowna is sounding the alarm about the poor learning conditions for many children at Rutland Middle School (RMS).
At a Central Okanagan school board meeting Wednesday night, Casorso Simpson told the board members about the urgent need to renovate or replace the over 70-year-old school in Kelowna.
“I feel distressed and embarrassed to live in a community as wealthy as ours, and yet, we’re still reinforcing the same socioeconomic disparity in our communities through school infrastructure rather than working for greater equity,” said Simpson.
Last year the board said it intended to set aside money to renovate the school in the next capital budget, however Simpson said something needs to be done now.
“As we all know, that building is in disrepair. I would like to ask the board again if money should become available, would they provide money for either an expansion project or for a new build?” she asked.
“It was reported that there was a $2 million surplus in this year’s budget … would the board consider using this to go directly to the improvements?”
Central Okanagan school district secretary-treasurer, Ryan Stierman, said that while the district is still in negotiations with the province to improve learning conditions for the approximately 550 students at the school, it could take some time before the school is renovated.
“If the B.C. government did announce the funding for the addition/modification of RMS, we would move immediately into the planning phase,” said Stierman, explaining the planning phase would take two to three-years to complete.
During the discussions, Stierman said seismic upgrading was taking up a large portion of the province’s current education budget — making it difficult to allocate money for a new school.