British Columbia

Seismic upgrades worth $11.6-million to start next year for Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith School

Two days after the school district approved a plan that could close schools, provincial dollars are starting to flow, beginning with $11.6 million for a South Vancouver elementary.

Parents welcome the plan but want a say in where kids learn during construction at Vancouver elementary

B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier, centre, announces $11.6-million to seismically upgrade Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Elementary School in South Vancouver. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

The B.C. government plans to spend $11.6 million on seismic upgrades to Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith elementary in South Vancouver, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced today.

The province had said it wouldn't fund long-awaited and much needed upgrades to Vancouver schools, until the school board came up with a plan to get enrollment up to 95 per cent capacity.

Two days ago, Vancouver School Board trustees approved a plan to do just that.

"We are pleased that Vancouver has committed to a solid long-term facilities plan, as that will assist us all in moving forward with the overall seismic program in the Vancouver School District," said Bernier in a release.

"Our key priority is to invest in seismic mitigation projects that best support student and staff safety."

The upgrades include 18 classrooms, the library, and the gym with reinforced walls and columns, the release states.

Where will kids go?

Construction is expected to start in 2017, and parents at the school are welcoming the news.

But some parents are also concerned about the province's plan to split up students from Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, and bus them to nearby MacCorkindale and Champlain Heights elementaries.

The school's Parent Advisory Committee had wanted the students to be kept together, in portable classrooms.

"[The province] won't pay for portables if there's empty seats in the actual district," said Johnny Sandhu, co-chair of the school's PAC.

"The school board, I believe, doesn't have the funds for it, or they won't pay for that either. So we're kind of stuck in between."

The Vancouver School Board says public consultation on the plan will begin next month.

With files from Farrah Merali


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