The Fraser-Cascade School District (SD 78) will be getting some energy and safety upgrades this year thanks to funding announced by the British Columbia Ministry of Education last week.
On Wednesday, Mar. 6, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, announced $206 million will flow from the ministry to schools across the province, a $20.6 million increase from last year.
“For too many years, maintenance projects weren’t funded properly, and now we are providing school districts with increased resources to improve schools for students,” said the minister. “This funding provides better instructional environments for both teachers and learners to focus more of their energies on student success.”
This year, the funding is broken down into five programs: the School Enhancement Program; Carbon Neutral Capital Program; Bus Acquisition Program; Building Envelope Program; and the Annual Facility Grant.
The Annual Facility Grant—which totals $110,000,000 province-wide—is received by all districts and is proportionally allocated to renew or replace aging components of play grounds, as well as health and safety items.
But with a budget of $65 million, the School Enhancement Program accounts for the majority of the funding projects, including those in SD 78, and focuses on mechanical upgrades and safety improvements. These investments, says Felming, will benefit the districts by helping them save money on electricity, natural gas, fuel, and ongoing maintenance: and those savings can be reinvested in the support of student learning and success.
“The School District has a five-year rotation for schools within the district to ensure all sites are equally considered for upgrades,” explained Doug Templeton, director of facilities for SD 78.
For its share of the funding announced, SD 78 will be getting nearly $1.2 million, which will be used towards flooring upgrades and replacing rooftop air units at Hope Secondary School, as well as replacing the unit ventilators and air conditioning compressors at Boston Bar Elementary.
“These are end-of-life-cycle items,” continued Templeton. “The reality is that these types of upgrades (and) renewal items are not part of the operating budget, so there would be no detrimental effect … for education.
“The benefits to (our) students and staff are that they have the opportunity to (teach and learn) in an environment that is optimally conductive to both.”
“CUPE’s K-12 Presidents Council is pleased that revenues are being targeted for the maintenance and much-needed upgrades to … school districts around the province,” agreed Warren Williams, president of the K-12 Presidents Council.