It’s another year and another disappointment for parents holding out hope of a replacement for Rutland Middle School (RMS).
The ageing school was not included in the 2020-21 annual Five-Year Capital Plan submission by the Central Okanagan School District approved by the B.C. Ministry of Education.
Major projects given approval priority by the ministry for this school year are a school site property acquisition for the Wilden area in Kelowna, and site acquisition and project development for a new Westside Secondary School.
While the school’s infrastructure failings have been advocated about by parents and the school board has attempted different facility concepts to replace the school – the most recent being conversion of Quigley Elementary to a middle school with the elementary students placed in surrounding other schools – the ministry has maintained the school remains a safe structure for students and staff and placed greater emphasis on building new rather than replace existing schools.
Also complicating the RMS replacement is the lack of available land to build locate a new RMS replacement, and rejection of a bid to allow a land site within the Agricultural Land Reserve to be used for education facility purposes.
Other minor capital projects approved by the ministry include carbon neutral lighting and electrical system upgrades for Mount Boucherie Secondary (ministry funding $538,000); mechanical and HVAC upgrades for A.S. Matheson Elementary and South Rutland Elementary ($1.1 million); and new universal accessible playground equipment for Chief Tomat Elementary and North Glenmore Elementary ($125,000 each).
The school district’s bus acquisition program also received ministry approval for the purchase of seven new school buses, with funding provided of $141,483 for each of six new buses and $156,173 for another bus outfitted with five wheelchair spaces.
The capital plan approval process now begins for the 2021-22 annual Five-Year Capital Plan, with those plans to be submitted by June 30.