Announcement of funding toward a trades and technology school at Norkam secondary could come as early as fall, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake said Friday.
The province announced a $5,000 grant to the community school at Sun Peaks. Speaking afterward to reporters, Lake made it clear any funding to the mountain community to establish a public school is behind Norkam.
“Norkam is my No. 1,” Lake told reporters in an interview. “It’s a priority for the Ministry of Education as well.
While emphasizing that capital dollars are tight, Lake said he wants to see a concrete funding announcement for the $8 million project before next May’s provincial election.
“I’d hope by this fall we’ll have ability to move forward,” he said, adding there are no “hard timelines.”
Several Kamloops-Thompson school district trustees recently said they are fearful of even contemplating asking money for Sun Peaks for fear of jeopardizing funding for the trades and technology centre.
Sun Peaks operates a school today based on distance learning and co-operation with the school district. It has 36 students this year and is forecasted to grow to 55 next year.
Lake said the Ministry of Education wants to see 200 children before contemplating a new school, a price tag in the neighbourhood of $25 million.
But both Lake and Sun Peaks mayor Al Raine said a hybrid school and community centre may be more realistic. Raine said the municipality could fund facilities, including sports fields and a gymnasium that could be used by residents as well.
“We’re willing to look at that kind of model,” Raine said. “I think that’s the kind of model we’d like to use.”