A campaign to replace the oldest school building in Campbell River forges on. The School District 72 Board of Education is now calling for local support in their efforts as they lobby the Ministry of Education to approve and fund a new Cedar Elementary School.
For over six years, the Board of Education says it’s consistently identified and submitted the replacement of Cedar Elementary to the Ministry of Education. In fact, it’s noted as the district’s highest capital need.
Built in the 1950s and expanded in the early 1960s, SD72 says the school actually ranks as one of the schools in the poorest condition province-wide on B.C.’s facility condition index, despite regular maintenance from the district and rounds of seismic upgrading.
That said, over the past several months, the board, through its Cedar replacement committee, has been building a case to be presented to the Minister of Education and treasury board for the replacement of the school.
“Our maintenance staff, Cedar Elementary staff, and the rest of the school community have maintained the building to the best of their ability and strived to create a safe and welcoming learning environment as possible, but there is only so much repair work that can be done before a building needs to be replaced,” says School District 72 Board Chairperson John Kerr.
“This request is about much more than desiring a new school as a showpiece; this is about meeting the legitimate and real needs of the students and community that access this school.”
The board is hoping, with funding approval from the Ministry and through subsequent community consultation, to see the school replaced with a building that not only resolves longstanding safety concerns but integrates community supports under one roof, while also honouring the Indigenous heritage of most of the students that attend.
As well, they say the new school building could become a natural location to support and expand the district’s Kwak’wala and Lik’wala Bilingual program which is currently only for grades K through 2.
“We believe a new Cedar Elementary could serve as a provincial model for how schools can support and strengthen learning of Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, work towards truth and reconciliation and start to heal from the past damages caused by the educational system, for the benefit of all students,” says Kerr.
He continues, “Instead of continuing to put funds towards trying to sustain this building with seismic upgrades and patchwork fixes, we would like the provincial government to recognize that this building is no longer suitable for the type of education we aspire towards providing the students of British Columbia.”
“If you believe there is a strong case for the replacement of Cedar Elementary, please indicate your support with letters and calls to the Minister of Education and our local MLA, Michele Babchuk.”
To find out more about the Board of Education’s vision for a new and improved Cedar Elementary School and how you can support the district’s efforts for funding approval, visit this website.