The School District 73 board of education has approved an updated capital plan for 2022-2023 that includes 20 major and 24 minor capital projects.
The plan is broken down into a number of funding requests to the Ministry of Education, including five new schools, three sites for future schools, one expansion project, eight replacement schools, three rural demolitions, five enhancement projects, five projects to lower the district's carbon emissions, playground equipment at three schools and 11 school buses.
In order of priority, the district is looking to build five new schools, including an elementary school in Batchelor Heights, a secondary school in Aberdeen, an elementary school in Juniper Ridge west, a K-12 school in Sun Peaks and an elementary school in Aberdeen East.
The district needs new schools to expand capacity, as many schools, especially in Kamloops, are facing issues with overcrowding.
A new school in Batchelor Heights is currently the district's top priority because of overcrowding. The elementary school in Batchelor’s catchment area — Westmount elementary — is currently at 164 per cent capacity, with 39 per cent of all students in the school's five portables.
SD73 secretary-treasurer Kelvin Stretch said the district already has Crown land available in the area to construct a new school.
One familiar list item, a new school for Pineview Valley, was left off the wish list this year because it has already received the support of government, according to facilities manager Art McDonald, who went over the plan at the district's board meeting on July 5. The district is currently preparing a business case for that school.
It is also looking to acquire sites three future school sites in Aberdeen, including one for a secondary school and one each for elementary schools in east and west Aberdeen.
To replace aging schools, the district has prioritized the following facilities: Dallas elementary, South Kamloops secondary, Bert Edwards elementary, Kay Bingham elementary, Raft River elementary (Clearwater), A.E. Perry elementary, Marion Schilling elementary and Beattie elementary.
For school expansions, the district has requested funding for an addition to Brocklehurst middle school.
As for the timeline for new schools and replacement schools to be constructed, the fulfillment of these projects is not likely to happen soon.
Earlier, following the release of the district's long-range facilities plan in April, McDonald commented that it is unlikely for the ministry to approve one new project per year. Using the example of Juniper West, McDonald said that school might not be built for another 10 years.
To deal with issues of overcrowding, the district recently completed consultations on catchment changes and approved new boundaries for a number of schools in the city, including the reopening of Ralph Bell elementary in Valleyview, which will take on students from Juniper Ridge elementary and Marion Schilling elementary in September 2022.