Isabella Dicken Elementary School has previously had to use the gym for classes while waiting for new portables to arrive. Pictured are Joe Dillon and Garrett Stirling. File photo

Plight of Kootenay schools highlighted in budget report

Provincial budget report notes huge repair bill at Cranbrook school and capacity issues in Fernie

The plight of schools in the southeast Kootenay has been highlighted in a provincial budget report, fuelling hopes funding could soon follow.

School District 5 (SD5) has been lobbying for a replacement school in Cranbrook and funding to address capacity issues in Fernie.

Isabella Dicken Elementary School long outgrew its current facility and has been forced to rely on portable classrooms to accommodate growth.

LOOK BACK: Isabella Dicken Elementary gets creative

At the start of the 2018/19 school year, the Fernie school had 472 enrolments – 28 more than projected – with 75 students in Grade 1 alone.

Cranbrook’s Mount Baker Secondary School has also been earmarked for replacement due to nearly $400,000 in emergency repairs needed at the music and drama room.

LOOK BACK: Southeast Kootenay public schools going through a growth spurt

Trustee Chris John presented SD5’s funding priorities to the BC Legislative Assembly’s Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services (SSCFGS) on September 25.

The SSCFGS is a nonpartisan committee tasked with gathering public feedback on the next provincial budget and has the ability to make budget recommendations.

In a release issued by SD5 Friday, the Board said it was both surprised and pleased to find that SD5’s funding requests were including in the SSCFGS’ budget consultation report, released November 15.

“School District No. 5 (Southeast Kootenay) described… challenges with overcapacity and the use of portables in Fernie, a city with a growth rate of 18 per cent, the fastest in the country,” reads the section in the SSCFGS report.

“The District highlighted issues at Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook where almost $400,000 in emergency repairs are required for the music and drama room in order to maintain the structural integrity of the building.

“They advocated for a full replacement of that school.”

Board Chair and long-time Fernie resident, Frank Lento, said he hopes the Ministry of Education will seriously consider the recommendations contained in the SSCFGS Report, and invest capital infrastructure monies further east of the lower mainland.

“Under the previous government, capital investment to education was at an all-time low, so our Board is certainly pleased to witness the current government’s investment in school infrastructure,” he said.

“We are, however, disappointed to note that of the 70 most recent capital projects being undertaken or recently completed, less than 10 per cent fall outside Vancouver Island or the lower mainland.”

According to Lento, the closest capital projects undertaken near the southeast Kootenay are two schools in Kelowna and one in Prince George.

For more information on SD5’s advocacy work and to view the Board’s presentation to the SSCFGS, visit Sd5.bc.ca/Board/advocacy/.

To view the SSCFGS Budget Report 2019, visit Leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance.

Just Posted

Maglio Building Centre sold to RONA

The stores in Nelson and Trail will remain open

Nelson singing teacher leads Bigby Place in song

“It was a lovely afternoon with them,” says Kathleen Neudorf

NELSON BUSINESS BUZZ: Baby, you’ve come a long way

Judy Banfield has sold Mountain Baby, and other business news from Bob Hall

The Hillties throwing launch party for new single

The Nelson band will debut “Moving On” on March 2

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read