The Central Okanagan School Board has endorsed a $35.9 million proposal to repurpose Quigley Elementary School as the expanded replacement for Rutland Middle School.
The proposal has been the topic of give-and-take preliminary discussions for some time between the ministry of education and the school district.
This latest proposal calls for Quigley to be updated based on 21st Century learning, which for a school that was built in 1978 presents construction challenges and increases costs.
But a critical element in the ministry’s approval process would see the enrollment increase to 700-students to accommodate new growth and class size requirements initiated for this school year.
The existing Rutland Middle School has 535 students in 23 classrooms.
School board chair Moyra Baxter said fulfilling a defined need for more enrollment spaces along with building safety shortfalls are two important criteria in the province’s funding evaluation process.
But Baxter said she is concerned that the rising price-tag for the project, which began as an $18 million retrofit of Quigley back in 2015, has grown into what amounts to a new school.
“My concern is the cost now being projected for repurposing Quigley Elementary may jeopardize our chances of getting funding,” Baxter said.
The comparison of building a new school on the Quigley site, which was requested by the education ministry, came in at $37.8 million.
The idea of moving Rutland Middle to Quigley evolved originally after a study done in 2013 determined the cost of a new 600-student middle school on the existing RMS/RSS site on Rutland Road at $24.2 million leaving the education ministry to request the school district consider other options.
The school board unanimously supported the Quigley repurpose resolution, acknowledging it was the next step in what will likely be an ongoing negotiating process with the province before a final agreement might be reached.
Trustee Rolli Cacchioni said if there is one issue in Rutland that he continually has heard about over the years, it has been the outdated state of RMS and the need to replace it.
“This has been an ongoing issue for some time and we need to move ahead with this,” Cacchioni said.