Rebuilding South Kam a SD73 priority
If Kamloops-Thompson school district officials get their way, the Tournament Capital might be getting a new high school sooner than later.
Assistant superintendent Karl deBruijn said South Kamloops secondary is old, out-dated and in need of a much more than renovations.
“Ideally, the school would be replaced,” he told KTW. “It would be a tear-down.”
Built in 1952, what is now South Kam used to be Kam High. The building itself has undergone countless renovations over the years, deBruijn said, but the time for a tear-down is likely approaching.
“I went there,” he said.
“And, it was old when I went there.”
The structure isn’t in danger of falling apart, deBruijn said, crediting the district’s maintenance department.
But, there are a number of issues that renovations won’t fix.
“These old buildings, they were not designed to meet the needs of modern education,” deBruijn said, noting South Kam’s electrical capacity is routinely exceeded.
“It’s a priority because it’s old.”
South Kam vice-principal Derek Wales said the building is not suited to be a modern-day high school.
“They [district maintenance staff] have kept it up, but I think at some point you have to go to the next generation of building,” he said. “It’s definitely not falling apart but, in terms of the new technology, it’s just not there.”
DeBruijn compared South Kam to South Okanagan secondary, which was built in the same era and designed by the same architect.
It’s in the process of being completely replaced — but that wasn’t always the plan.
The 60-year-old high school in Oliver was half-renovated and half-rebuilt before being ravaged by fire last year.
“The old school burned to the ground and we saved the new portion,” said Mitch Van Aller, director of facilities for the Okanagan-Similkameen school district.
Now, Van Aller said, a contract has been awarded to a construction company to rebuild the burned-down portion.
Though apparently on the wish list of district officials, funding for a new South Kam is nowhere to be seen on SD73’s five-year capital plan.
There is, however, a $12.4-million request for a new gymnasium at the school, replacing a facility described as “inadequate” by Wales.
“In a capital plan, you have to be realistic,” deBruijn said. “If we were given the opportunity to do the gymnasium expansion, that would help us immediately. That would be much quicker than trying to get a rebuild of the entire school.”
It’s not just South Kam, either.
DeBruijn said the district would also like to replace elementary schools Kay Bingham and A.E. Perry — both built around the same time as South Kam.
“They’re getting pretty old as well,” he said. “And, again, they were designed in an era that didn’t take today’s technology into account.”
South Kam’s aging building is also expected to face increased strain in coming years as Beattie students are expected to take over the John Peterson building they have been sharing with the high school.
The district is asking for $1.6 million for upgrades to John Peterson’s campus.
“It’s for renovations just to make it more suitable to the arts school,” deBruijn said.
“Things like a dance studio and other kind of performing-arts features.”
According to Wales, that will leave South Kam looking for more space.
“We’ll need more classrooms,” he said, and office space, a shop, things like that.”
The Kamloops-Thompson school district’s five-year capital plan request was slated to go to the board for approval on Monday, Oct. 15, after KTW press deadline.