Trustees seek cash for school projects

School board to hold meeting with education minister and city's MLAs

School trustees sit down with Education Minister Peter Fassbender and the city's MLAs later this week to talk cash for a replacement South Kamloops secondary.

Fassbender is in Kamloops on Friday to attend a sod turning ceremony for the NorKam Trades and Technology Centre. MLAs Todd Stone and Terry Lake will attend.

The intention is to celebrate the long-in-the-wings NorKam project and show off other Kamloops-Thompson School District successes, said school board chairman Denise Harper.

But Harper told The Daily News on Tuesday trustees will broach the subject of money for a new South Kamloops secondary school, an addition to Westmount elementary and renovations to John Peterson campus.

"We will have many opportunities to share with him our concerns," said Harper. The sod turning is at 9 a.m. followed by a tour of district facilities and a lunch meeting.

The district earmarked in its latest capital plan $43 million for a replacement SKS, $9 million for an addition to Westmount and $1.7 to renovate John Peterson.

Trustees approved the plan during a meeting Monday night. Harper said the intention is to reach out to Lake and Stone for help in securing provincial money for the projects.

Neither Lake nor Stone have seen the plan, but they expressed a desire Tuesday to bring the projects to completion.

Stone said it's too soon to come up with a timeline for funding, but he hopes to have a better idea after Friday's meeting with Fassbender and trustees.

"Once we understand what their priorities are, that makes it easier for us to go to Victoria and lobby and advocate on behalf of the project," he said.

South Kamloops is an aging facility, possibly the oldest in the district, and out of date in several respects. Lake said that is reason enough to consider a replacement school.

"Certainly we're going to support the school district and make sure they have a good hearing in front of the minister," said Lake.

School district secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch hopes it will be easier to get provincial money for these projects than the NorKam trades school. That project took a decade to realize.

He said the schools are filled to capacity and in need of upgrades. In South Kamloops' case, the electrical is out of date.

"The building was built 60 plus years ago. At some point in time, it will require replacement," said Stretch.

For Westmount, the population in Batchelor Heights is booming and the school already has three portables. Stretch said two to three more would be added during the next couple of years if an addition weren't built.

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