It was an attempt to showcase some “good news” around seismic upgrades needed for Vancouver schools.
BC Education Minister Mike Bernier joined area MLA, Minister Suzanne Anton, and school trustees to announce 11.6-million dollars to seismically upgrade Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Elementary.
It’s also getting a new elevator, accessible washrooms, new storm lines and water lines.
It’s money parents welcome, but it’s not the new school some were hoping for.
A report from last year pegged replacement costs at fourteen million dollars, but minister Bernier insists the new school would now cost twenty million dollars.
Minimum enrollments necessary to qualify for upgrade money
The money had previously been earmarked, but comes at a time the province has been under fire for an agreement with the school district that calls for 95% enrollment if it wants more cash to upgrade others.
Bernier says an agreement that requires the district achieve 95% enrollment before it gets new cash for seismic upgrades has been in place for a number of years, and that 10,000 empty seats is good reason for it.
“When I announced that there were 6,000 new students in the province of British Columbia, unfortunately none of them were in the City of Vancouver…and that’s why it’s important to have a plan in place.”
But the agreement isn’t black and white
“This is not a hard fact of 95% average in all schools or we’re not investing. In fact, we said we’d continue to invest, which is why I’m glad to be here for this announcement. In fact, if you look at this particular school it’s only at 91%.”
The deal could see 13 Vancouver schools close, although no decisions have been made.
The VSB says an extensive consultation process will take place.