School District 73 hopes Parkcrest elementary students don't miss more than a week of classes after a massive fire destroyed the school Thursday evening.
Superintendent Alison Sidow has vowed to have students back in some form of a school by Sept. 16, but SD73 is still in the process of determining where they will go and more details will be shared next week.
“We’re sad that Parkcrest is gone. It’s been lost to us, but everybody is safe,” Sidow told reporters gathered at the board office for an update on Friday. “We will rebuild. We’re a resilient community.”
Sidow said SD73 is considering all of its options in determining where students will be placed for the 2019-2020 school year and has a preferred course of action.
“We are just meeting with those who are impacted as a result of that plan and we will be able to advise our public, our family and our staff of a plan early next week,” Sidow said.
She said staff have already been scouting potential sites and there’s a strong possibility portables will be used.
The school district is trying to avoid splitting up staff or any of the 360 students who attend Parkcrest elementary. It also wants to keep everyone together in their community, Sidow told KTW.
SD73, however, doesn’t have a school — either closed or currently operating — that can accommodate the entire population of Parkcrest elementary, said Kamloops-Thompson school board chair Kathleen Karpuk.
“Parkcrest was a very large elementary school for our district. There were 16 classrooms in that school and we don’t have a lot of elementary school buildings with that number of classrooms,” Karpuk said.
Karpuk received a phone call from Minister of Education Rob Fleming, who she said indicated the province will assist with providing resources to get “the school back up on its feet.”
She said SD73 will be asking the ministry for items such as desks, chairs, books and portables in order to get the students back in class this year.
Instructional days the students will be losing as a result of the fire will not be made up during the school year, Karpuk told KTW.
Sidow said Parkcrest’s teachers will not lose a paycheque as a result of the lull in class time.
Next week, teachers will be kept busy working on rebuilding resources that were lost in the fire.
“All of their materials, all their lesson plans, all their resources have gone up in smoke — literally,” Karpuk said.
It’s not clear if any property will be salvageable from the burned down school at this point.
Kamloops Fire Rescue assistant chief Steve Robinson said it's unsafe to enter the structure at this time due to its instability.
Secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch is working with the school district’s insurer to cover losses of property.
“If there are personal items that have been lost — and there will have been — those will be able to be claimed,” Sidow said.
Long term, SD73 intends to rebuild the school on the property where the charred and smouldering remains of the building now sit.
The fire has shot a new school for Parkcrest elementary to the top of SD73’s capital needs list, Karpuk said.
She said a number of steps need to be taken to to rebuild Parkcrest elementary, and estimated a two-year timeline if everything falls into place perfectly.
Stretch estimated the replacement value of the school at $18 to $20 million.
“The district will be completing a project development report which will be submitted to the Ministry [of Education],” said Stretch.
No people were hurt in the blaze, but Sidow said staff told her a classroom pet bunny named Thumper died in the fire.