Central Okanagan Board of Education chairwoman Myra Baxter a new secondary school in West Kelowna is not the only top priority for the school district.
She while the West Kelowna school is tops the list for new schools in the district, a rebuild or replacement of the existing Rutland Middle School remains the top priority in that category. Replacing Rutland Middle has been a top school district priority for several years, said Baxter, adding it’s up to the ministry which one would be funded first.
The letter from the ministry recognizing a new secondary school is a top priority for the district was the result of West Kelowna politicians meeting with the education minister at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler last month.
Baxter said the district did not receive the letter but has heard concerns from Rutland residents worried that the replacement of Rutland Middle School has been overtaken on the school district’s priority list. She said that is not the case.
According to Baxter, the school district must identify priorities for both the new school and the replacement categories when dealing with the ministry.
The Ministry of Education has identified West Kelowna’s new school site and secondary school a top priority.
School District #23 (central Okanagan) has included the plans in their five year capital plan.
No further detail was provided in the letter that addressed the discussion, Minister of Education, Rob Fleming and then West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater had during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention in Sept.
“We remain committed to continuing to work with your local board of education on the long-term planning of education programs and associated facilities,” writes Fleming.
Findlater met with Fleming to seek support for the expedited development of a second Westside secondary school.
With an average growth of 1.95 per cent since 2006 in area communities, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland and Regional District of Central Okanagan West Electoral Area, the student population is forecasted to increase by 1,122 students by 2027. This presents a capacity issue for the only secondary school on the Westside, Mt. Boucherie Senior Secondary.
“Minister Fleming heard our plea for capital funding for a new senior secondary school. He said the numbers were certainly there,” said Findlater after the meeting. “He also said that School District 23 has a very good reputation for these kinds of planning projects which I am pleased to note.”
The new West Kelowna Council will meet Nov. 6 at 1:30 p.m. to review the letter.
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