The Central Okanagan Board of Education has initiated a renewed effort to replace the aging Rutland Middle School.
The trustees agreed at Wednesday’s board meeting to send a formal letter to Education Minister Rob Fleming to seek funding approval for a replacement school, and the board wants to further meet face-to-face with Fleming to discuss the school’s future.
The move comes after RMS Parent Advisory Council president publicly stated that parents are frustrated by the delays in replacing the school.
The letter reiterates that the Rutland Middle School replacement project has been a funding priority for 10 years, with the recent proposal still on the table to renovate Quigley Elementary, due to a lack of available land to build a new middle school elsewhere in Rutland, has not been endorsed by the ministry.
“We understand that the approval process for a replacement school requires patience and time. However, we are now looking at 10 years since this project was placed on our Capital Plan and, even with approval, it will reasonably be five more years before it is open,” stated the letter signed by school board chair Moyra Baxter.
Baxter points out RMS was built for 425 students, currently houses 558 students (with 10 portables) and is projected to require space for 700 students within the near future. The school building capacity for student enrolment is currently at 131 per cent.
Baxter cited recent consultant reports on the estimate for repairs over the next five years at RMS as exceeding $7 million.
“We are concerned that this is not a wise expenditure of funds when it could be better invested in a replacement school,” said Baxter in the letter.
“We appreciate the support the ministry has provided our district through recent capital approvals supporting new schools as well as expansion projects and understand that as a province you are dealing with requests that exceed funding.
“We feel strongly however that the growth in the Rutland area and the significantly increasing costs to maintain the facility, place Rutland Middle School in a special category for approval.”