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EDITORIAL – There’s an alternative to building more and more schools

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE BUILDING SPREE being promoted by School District 73 aims at addressing burgeoning school enrollment but there’s an elephant in the room.

The local district has a big list of high-profile projects such as the completed expansion at Valleyview secondary, and the replacement for Parkcrest elementary, which was destroyed by fire.

And there’s a long-standing plan to replace Kamloops secondary. There are also plans to replace a half dozen others.

Brand new schools on the horizon include Juniper West, Batchelor, Sun Peaks and a pair in Aberdeen. That’s an ambitious wish list considering the cost of building schools these days. The Parkcrest project is tagged at almost $35 million, roughly the same cost as the expansion at Valleyview secondary.

Here’s the rub. School district 73 enrollment is ever-changing due to shifts in how communities grow. In 2015, for example, it went down. Only two years later, it went up again.

Such ups and downs are the rule. Stuart Wood, Westsyde, Ralph Bell and George Slater elementaries have all been closed due to enrollment loss.

Westsyde and Ralph Bell re-opened after many years in mothballs. It’s doubtful Stuart Wood will ever be used as a school again but it’s likely a new downtown school will be needed at some point.

George Slater, on the other hand, was sold for a fraction of what it would cost to replace it now. And that’s the dilemma — the need for schools comes and goes.

It’s a huge cost to taxpayers. Maybe there’s another solution — movable schools. Portables have long been a fixture on school grounds across the country and they’re regarded as dark, depressing, leaking things that should be abandoned at the earliest opportunity.

Yet, innovations in some school jurisdictions are changing the lowly portable into pleasant, eco-friendly structures. Maybe it’s time for reconsideration of the never-ending quest for more and more schools, and to take a new look at portables in a friendlier light.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9224 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – There’s an alternative to building more and more schools

  1. Maybe the school situation is one of the big reasons why we cannot get professionals like doctors to come here? What a selling feature!! HEY COME TO PULP-LOOPS, WE’LL SHOVE YOUR KID INTO AN OVER CROWDED PORTABLE!…

  2. Robert George // November 22, 2022 at 10:45 PM // Reply

    When I was a boy in the 40’s we had two outside buildings at Lord Nelson school ,grades 1 to 6 and one at Lord Byng high school. They were entirely adequate, and we as children or anyone else for that matter thought them adequate for their purpose. Too many do gooders of our present day expect far too much and we just can’t afford it.

  3. Modular buildings are awesome and could easily accommodate welcoming, practical schools with a little creativity.

    • most schools don’t have the real estate to put these portables. Its a toss up between playgrounds or portables. I think playing fields are more important than portables

      • You think playing fields are more important than a warm and dry classroom? You really really think that Vivienne?

  4. The Parkcrest school is paid through their insurance, not tax payers. The city is growing, so I suspect if we do not want to have more children bussed, then building new schools in new communities just makes sense. Its the cost of a growing city.

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