The Kamloops-Thompson board of education was honoured to have Education Minister Rachna Singh join us on Jan. 22 to learn about our 2022-2027 district strategic plan priorities in connection to her mandate letter.
We appreciated how open Singh was to learn about our district and that she sought to have genuine conversation about the needs of our communities. We shared our urgent need for more space and our passion and dedication for co-creating inclusive spaces in our district.
In her mandate letter, Singh aims to respond to the needs of fast-growing communities. To that end, we shared that we desperately need financial support in this year’s provincial budget for a new school in Pineview Valley as Kamloops is among the top five fastest -growing communities in B.C.
On May 19, 2021, then-education minister Jennifer Whiteside announced support for a business case for a Pineview Valley school. Since April 2021, we have completed 13 school catchment area changes, impacting 25 per cent of our K-7 schools, and re–opened a school in Valleyview.
McGowan Park elementary is at 160 per cent utilization capacity, with four portables. The three nearby schools that would be eligible to undergo a redistribution of students through a catchment change are at approximately 150 per cent utilization capacity, on average, so they are overly full and relying on portables.
There is no room in nearby schools to do a catchment area change, so our only option is a new school in Pineview Valley.
We also shared that we urgently need a financial contribution of $7.5 million in this year’s provincial budget to purchase the Pacific Way site for a secondary school in Aberdeen.
In five years, students in southwest Kamloops will need a secondary school as the current high schools are anticipated to be at 146 per cent capacity.
On April 11, 2022, we had written to Whiteside to share that we have a one-time chance to buy the only existing land available in Aberdeen for a price of $6.1 million, prior to December 31, 2022.
We still have this option, but there is immense pressure on the owner to sell and the cost of the land has increased. Securing this land is crucial to support our current and future secondary capacity needs in southwest Kamloops.
We also shared our connection to the minister’s mandate letter by declaring our passion for and dedication to co-creating inclusivespaces by working directly with students.
This was the purpose of Singh’s visit — to launch the province’s K-12 anti-racism action plan during the first Student Equity Council Summit, held at the Henry Grube Education Centre, where more than 150 students co-developed an SD73 K-12 Anti-racism action plan.
The students shared powerful stories with the minister and her team, which included assistant deputy minister Jennifer McCrae and associate superintendent of Indigenous education Brad Baker.
Everyone was moved by the leadership shown by the students who gifted us with their lived experiences as our starting point for co-creating a district anti-racism action plan.
We enjoyed our visit with Singh and we truly appreciated that she made our district her first stop in her new role as minister of education and child care.
Rhonda Kershaw is vice-chair of the Kamloops-Thompson board of education. Kershaw’s email address is email@example.com. SD73 columns appear monthly in KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com.