Central Okanagan Board of Education chair Moyra Baxter with school district superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal. Photo: Capital News files

Trustees approve school priority building plan

Questions remain about new Westside secondary and replacement of Rutland Middle School

Facing a June 30 submission deadline to the ministry of education for the 2018-19 school year, the Central Okanagan Board of Education has adopted a five-year capital plan.

The plan prioritizes infrastructure projects, most notably for new and replacement schools, within the school district.

However, specific plans for dealing with some of the top priorities are still lacking, placing the board in what trustee Julia Fraser described as “between a rock and a hard place.”

Trustees voiced frustration about site acquisition and construction of a new secondary school in West Kelowna being suddenly elevated as the top new school priority, when for the previous two years that priority was earmarked for a new secondary school in Glenmore.

READ ALSO: BOARD DEFENDS SOGI 123

And the fate of replacing Rutland Middle School by renovating the current Quigley Elementary into a new middle school site was sidetracked last month when an education ministry official told the school district their preference is to not repurpose existing elementary schools.

Trustee Rollie Cacchioni said at the recent Rutland Residents Association meeting he attended, it was made clear to him “people don’t care where we build a new middle school, just get it done.”

The problem is there is no land suitable in size within Rutland to house a new middle school, and a secondary option to the Quigley proposal of building it on the Pearson Elementary site has been ruled out.

READ ALSO: NEW DIGS FOR DISTRICT STAFF

“At this point, there are no options outside of Quigley. We have to go back to looking at building a new school on the existing site and what options that presents to us,” said Eileen Sadlowski, school district secretary/treasurer.

School board chair Moyra Baxter suggested the board push ahead and make a case for the Quigley option to proceed.

“They told us their preference but we didn’t get a firm no to the idea,” Baxter said.

She also vented her frustration about the West Kelowna secondary school scenario, saying just two years ago the plan was to convert Glenrosa Middle School into a secondary school and add a new middle school to the George Pringle school site.

READ ALSO: PARENTS LOOK TO DELAY GRADE RECONFIGURATION

“That was two years ago and now we in a whole new direction because of the reconfiguration of classes in Westside schools that was adopted for this fall,” Baxter said, reiterating a complaint she has voiced often at recent meetings about the board making major decisions in isolation of one another.

Cacchioni acknowledged her frustration, noting the Glenmore secondary proposal also ties into current overcrowding issues at Dr. Knox Middle and KLO Middle schools.

“I had a parent from KLO berate me the other day about the situation at KLO and why we aren’t doing something to alleviate the enrolment pressure there,” Cacchioni said.

“We are an expanding school district. There will be 40,000 people estimated living here in 50 years so we have to start building some of these schools on our priority list now.”

Ultimately, the ministry of education is relied upon for funding all or a large portion of school infrastructure projects, and funding requests from all B.C. school districts are weighed in priority by the ministry.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


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barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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