Former schools, empty land and park space are among the properties School District 8 intends to sell off as it looks to cut costs.
SD8 announced earlier this month it would part ways with 10 properties, provided the district is given approval by the Ministry of Education.
District chair Lenora Trenaman said SD8 currently has $83 million in deferred maintenance costs. Deferred maintenance refers to a value set by ministry auditors on the cost of future infrastructure needs such as window and roofs that will eventually need to be replaced.
Deferred maintenance shouldn’t be confused with operating cost, which for example is money spent to keep the lights on.
“We have a lot of empty space. It costs us to keep and maintain all of these buildings,” said Trenaman. “We don’t get enough capitol dollars annually to ever be able to meet the full needs of that deferred maintenance. The impact of that is we have to then utilize more of our operations dollars to provide for those needs, which basically if we can reduce our costs we’ll have more operating dollars to provide services for our students.”
The properties include:
• The district office on Johnstone Road, which is the site of a former school. SD8 staff intend to temporarily relocate to Central School by the end of the year, although a permanent home for the district office hasn’t yet been decided on.
Secretary-treasurer Kim Morris referred to the 2016-2024 Facilities Plan, which cited a decline of 2,000 students between 1996-97 and 2016 as well as over 1,700 empty classroom seats. With that in mind, Morris said, it doesn’t make sense for the district office to remain where it is.
“We try to divest ourselves of any buildings that don’t have school district programs or students and try to fill up the buildings that do have those programs and students so that we’re making the most efficient use of our space as we can,” said Morris.
• The former AI Collinson Elementary School on Highway 3A north of Nelson, which closed in 2008. The school is the current home of Ecole des Sentiers-Alpine, which is not part of SD8.
• The former Gordon Sargent Elementary School, which is adjacent to Nelson’s Lions Park and also closed in 2008. It currently houses The School House Early Care and Learning Centre.
• Kin Park in Creston.
• The land on which tennis courts and the swimming pool reside in Salmo.
• A former maintenance yard in Crawford Bay.
• The former Yahk Elementary School, which closed down in 2016 because of falling enrolment.
• Parcels of land in Yahk, Ymir and Retallack. That land however may be required to revert to the Crown.