The Ministry of Education has approved more than $2.7 million worth of capital funding for upgrade projects throughout School District 27.
The district had submitted an application for projects valued at $6.2 million – including the purchase of several new buses, new playground equipment and HVAC upgrades at several schools.
The ministry approved funding for less than half of the requested amount, something that district superintendent Chris van der Mark said is typical with capital funding requests.
“We always ask for a bunch of projects and generally they look at what the top things are on our list,” van der Mark said. “We have to prioritize them. It’s basically a wish list.”
The biggest project to be approved is HVAC upgrades at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary in 100 Mile House, valued at $1.5 million. Similar upgrades have also been approved for Mile 108 Elementary with a price tag of $235,000.
The purchase of five new buses – valued at $159,252 a piece – was also given the green light by the ministry. New playground equipment for Cataline Elementary was also approved at a cost of $165,000.
Two schools in the district that have long been slated for full replacement – Marie Sharpe and 100 Mile elementary schools – are still on the radar for the district, but van der Mark said it’s not clear when that funding might come through.
“Billions of dollars are going into replacing aging facilities across the province and a lot of that is going to seismic work or massive growing enrolment in districts like Surrey,” he said, noting that a “low-ball” estimate for a new school is around $30 million.
New PSO principal
Caitlin Currie has been announced as the new principal for Peter Skene Ogden Secondary. Currie has worked in the district for several years, first as a teacher at Alexis Creek in September 2014, where she moved into the principal role in 2017.
“During her time at Alexis Creek, Ms. Currie has demonstrated a unique ability to build school culture around learning, relationships and a culture of care,” an SD 27 release states.
Currie has also headed up the district’s Rural Schools Program, which focused on coordinating programming to be more responsive to the needs of rural students.
Currie will take over from PSO’s current principal, Geoff Butcher, effective Aug. 1.
Staff and board members with School District 27 are exploring ways to address the housing crisis in the South Cariboo, which officials said is having an impact on drawing new teachers to the area.
“One of our more unique challenges in recruitment and retention is finding people places to stay, especially in the south end,” superintendent Chris van der Mark said. “So we’re really actively engaged in finding some opportunities and solutions.”
Discussions about what those opportunities might look like are expected to take place among the board over the next few months, as they work through budget development for the coming year, van der Mark said.