School District 8 has approved a plan to increase spending by nearly $5 million on facilities upgrades over the next five years. File photo

School District 8 adds $5 million in facility upgrades over five years

The district projects to have a total of $20 million to spend on its buildings through 2025

School District 8’s board of trustees has voted to increase facility improvement spending by nearly $5 million through 2025.

In a presentation during the June 23 meeting, secretary-treasurer Michael McLellan said the district has $1.4 million in unspent capital funding for needed upgrades such as roofing, electrical upgrades and gym flooring.

There is also a further $2.1 million in the appraised values of surplus properties the district intends to either sell or lease.

McLellan’s proposal was to increase capital spending by $4.775 million over five years in order to improve the conditions of SD8 schools.

“The board of SD8 has strongly expressed its desire to modernize and upgrade all its learning environments throughout the district,” he said.

McLellan also projects about $3 million in annual funding from the Ministry of Education, which would add a further $15.4 million through 2025 for a total of just over $20 million.

The spending increase comes after SD8 decided to reinvest in its current facilities.

Trustees voted in 2016 to close Trafalgar Middle School and replace it with a new South Nelson Elementary, but changed course last December when it became apparent the education ministry was unlikely to fund new buildings.

That was the case, albeit on a smaller scale, in April when the district announced a planned expansion to Blewett Elementary was denied provincial funding. The district also announced in January it would expand Winlaw Elementary on its own dime. That school had also previously been considered for closure.

McLellan said engineers from the education ministry also inspected SD8 facilities in the summer of 2019 and made recommendations on potential improvements to maintenance and learning environments.

The spending, he said, will also upgrade technology used by staff and students.

“The number of devices per student has increased dramatically,” he said.

The board approved the decision with the exception of trustee Allan Gribbin, who voted against.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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