New school priorities cited for Central Okanagan School District

A Glenmore high school tops list of new school priorities

Premier John Horgan made an appearance in Lake Country back in 2018 to announce funding for a new  school in that community, Ecole H.S. Grenda Middle, which opened last fall. Central Okanagan Public Schools is hoping Horgan or other government officials will show up in Kelowna to announce funding for a new Glenmore secondary school in the coming year. (File photo)

A new secondary school for the Glenmore area is the top priority for Central Okanagan Public Schools, according to its proposed five-year capital plan.

In a report to the planning and facilities committee, staff identifies the high enrolment increase at the Glenmore elementary schools as foreshadowing the challenge for an already over-crowded École Kelowna Secondary to absorb.

“Construction of new residential units in Kelowna continues to increase, and the real estate values of existing housing stock to younger families moving into the city continue to contribute to the District’s enrolment increase,” said the school district staff report.

The recommended number two priority is a new elementary school in the Wilden neighbourhood area, for which a school site property was purchased last year.

The capital spending priorities have shifted now that the previous top priority, Westside Secondary School, earlier this year was confirmed funding to proceed with a plan to repurpose École George Pringle Elementary.

In other capital plan categories, the school addition to priority is Rutland Senior Secondary, again a reflection of that school exceeding its 1,550 student capacity.

RSS is projected at 1,670 students for 2022 and grow to 1,808 students by 2024. Enrolment projections indicate the school will continue to exceed its building operating capacity beyond 2025.

The second priority in this category is Hudson Road Elementary in West Kelowna, as the school has been seeing consistent growth in recent years and that will be bolstered by the addition of a French Immersion program starting this fall.

The FI influx comes from the disbursement of FI students to École George Pringle to other area schools to accommodate its transformation to be upgraded and become a new secondary school.

On the site acquisition list, number one is a school site in the UBC Okanagan area of Academy Way. The area is expected to have 500 single-family units and 570 multi-family units come on stream over the next decade.

And the school replacement category continues to emphasize the need to replace Rutland Middle School, a reflection of a school building that is reaching the expected end of its useful life.

The school district has spent more than 10 years attempting to secure funding for this particular project, but the ministry of education and child care has opted for other capital funding priorities, stating while the school building is aging and outdated, it remains a safe facility for students to attend.

The committee will discuss the report at its next meeting on Wednesday, May 4, 6 p.m., and make a recommendation for the board of education.

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