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Central Okanagan looks for funding for 3 new schools

New middle/secondary for UBCO area top new school priority

There are some familiar requests on the 2025-2030 five-year capital list of priorities for Central Okanagan Public Schools.

Chief among the major capital funding list submitted to the Ministry of Education and Child Care are three new schools – a new middle/secondary school within the UBC Okanagan area, a new elementary/middle school within the Smith Creek area of West Kelowna and a new elementary/middle school within the Wilden area of Kelowna.

All three were top priorities for the updated capital plan last year.

Submitted to the planning and facilities committee on Wednesday (May 1), the capital project list includes plans for expansion at eight schools – Rutland Middle (RMS), Chief Tomat Elementary, Webber Road Elementary, Bankhead Elementary, Black Mountain Elementary, Oyama Traditional, KLO Middle and Rutland Senior Secondary.

The aging Rutland Middle is the top priority under the school enhancement program.

After years of funding rejection for a replacement school, the board of education opted to reset RMS in the school enhancement category for a better opportunity to seek alternative funding while acknowledging such funding will mean the school will be replaced on-site in stages.

During a pre-election campaign stop earlier this year, BC United Party leader Kevin Falcon gave a commitment that funding would be available for RMS replacement if his party wins the provincial election this fall.

Currently across most polls, BC United is sitting third behind the upstart second-place Conservative Party and the frontrunner NDP.

Now on the school replacement list are the Glenmore and Raymer elementary schools.

The site acquisition category also lists as the top three priorities a three-hectare site for a new elementary in the Kelowna downtown core, a 2.4 ha site in Lake Country’s Tyndal Road area and a 2.4 ha site around West Kelowna’s Goat Peak neighbourhood.

The Capital Plan staff report indicates the ministry continues to highlight the focus of the provincial government is to reduce portable classrooms through the creation of new student seats, while also focusing on student safety and accelerating the seismic mitigation program.

Over recent years, the ministry has also indicated a government priority for building new schools rather than replacing existing schools which still provide a safe environment for students, given financial capital spending limitations coupled with similar funding demands of other school districts.

READ MORE: Wilden school tops 2023-24 Central Okanagan wishlist

READ MORE: Column–Rutland Middle School parents feeling slighted again

Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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