Kootenay Lake school district delays closures

Trafalgar, Salmo elementary to stay open through 2019

While Trafalgar middle school’s days are still numbered, the school will remain open at least until 2019. File photo

Greg Nesteroff

Although they remain on the chopping block, Salmo elementary and Nelson’s Trafalgar middle school won’t close until June 2019 at the earliest.

The Kootenay Lake board of education originally planned to close the two buildings at the end of June 2017, but deferred that decision a year when provincial money required to carry out their facilities plan failed to materialize.

The board further extended its timeline to close both schools by another year Tuesday.

“In a perfect world, we would be moving on everything right away,” board chair Lenora Trenaman said in an interview. “It’s no surprise that when you’re trying to obtain significant capital dollars you have to wait. There is a lot of competition.”

She noted that some districts, such as Surrey, are growing so fast that it’s a struggle to even put up enough portable classrooms to accommodate students. Additionally, many Lower Mainland schools need seismic upgrades.

The Kootenay Lake district’s facilities plan, adopted in 2016, called for Trafalgar’s closure with a new South Nelson elementary school to be built on its site. Nelson-area elementary schools would all be K-7, while L.V. Rogers Secondary School would be converted to handle grades 8-12. The moves also hinged on an addition to Blewett elementary and renovations to Central school.

However, so far the government has only provided funding for an elevator at Central. It hasn’t indicated when money for the other projects might be forthcoming.

There’s a similar situation in Salmo where the elementary school will be closed and combined with the secondary school, but the latter first requires the addition of a new wing. Salmo is the top priority in the district’s capital plan, Trenaman said, adding that for the moment they are forced to maintain buildings that they want to close.

“It stretches our operational dollars … It’s just a really unfortunate situation. We’re ready to go.”

Trenaman said further public consultation will be required if their plan is no further ahead by this time next year.

Construction on Trafalgar began in 1924 and the school opened in 1928.

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