Chair Frank Lento is speaking after they formally invited new Education Minister Rob Fleming to the area to visit schools.
Lento says it’s traditional to reach out to the Ministry whenever a fresh face steps into the role to show them the district’s needs.
There are two crucial needs according to the board chair.
Replacing the 70 plus year old Mount Baker is certainly one of them says Lento who calls it an old, tired structure that only has one thing making it exuberant – the people inside it.
Lento suggests they don’t do themselves any favours when government officials tour the facilities because educators and administrators still have students thriving and the Ministry sees that.
He says the maintenance departments deserve rewards for their ability to keep the buildings standing and the lights on.
Lento asks rhetorically to imagine what would happen if those students had a brand new facility to learn in?
It’s a Catch 22 he insists.
Lento says the Board will get on their hands and knees for the BC Government to approve feasibility studies for both Mount Baker and Isabella Dicken Elementary in Fernie.
The Elk Valley facility is the second crucial matter.
The district is expecting up to 100 new kindergarten students next year, which Lento believes could push the current number of six portables at Isabella Dicken up to eight, more than the number of classrooms at the school.
Lento continues eight portables in Fernie would match numbers at schools in much busier district’s in the Lower Mainland and mean Isabella Dickens would have the second most portables at any similar instituation in BC.
The office of Education Minister Rod Fleming responded to a request for comment via e-mail.
Fleming wrote the Ministry is aware of SD 5’s capital requests and their priority is the safety of every student, teacher and support staff worker in B.C.
The e-mail went on to say, all B.C. school districts and their capital plans are a priority for Fleming and the ministry and they have a province full of diverse needs and issues.
– Southeast Kootenay School District Board Chair Frank Lento on Mount Baker Secondary