Growth is driving Kamloops-Thompson school district

Securing capital funding continues tom be a work in progress for the Kamloops-Thompson school district.

New board chair Kathleen Karpuk, who has served as a trustee for years, believes SD73 is finally getting its capital needs on the Ministry of Education’s radar.

“And this isn’t something that’s happened over the last six months, this is something we’ve been dedicatedly working on for the past couple of years,” said Karpuk.

Now the province is considering a project development report from SD73 for an expansion of the overcrowded Valleyview secondary. Karpuk expressed confidence in the project getting the green light given recent comments from B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming that it is a matter of when and not if.

Most recently, SD73 received provincial funding to upgrade boilers and dust collectors at area schools.

SD73 has its sights set on a handful of other capital needs to deal with increasing enrolment in the future, having just adopted its long range facilities report, which calls for new schools in Sun Peaks, Pineview and an addition at Westmount.

SD73 is already checking projects off the list, with the reopening of Westsyde elementary pegged for the fall to break up the overcrowded David Thompson elementary.

Continued enrolment pressure has the district looking for short term solutions as well, earmarking 24 more portables and 13 repurposed rooms to combat space issues in a planned five-year rollout.

Karpuk said trustees have spoken to the City of Kamloops about the expected growth in Pineview, which is why trustees are planning to one day erect a school in that area.

“We’re always, continually working on things, and we get a lot done,” said Karpuk, noting recently held information sessions about the dangers of vaping and gangs.

Among that work is SD73’s goal to achieve parity between Aboriginal and overall six-year high school completion rate: a gap that continues to shrink year after year. Last year the aboriginal rate was 78 per cent compared to 88 per cent overall.

“One of the big things we are working on right now is our equity project,” said Karpuk.

“We are looking very closely at our Aboriginal students’ achievement. We are going through our entire district with a fine tooth comb right now to try and make sure that we don’t have policies, procedures and other barriers that are working against our First Nations students in achieving all that they can academically,” she said.

The goal for 2019-2020 is to have both numbers at 90 per cent.

Last fall’s election of a new school board brought in three new trustees and, Karpuk said, now that everyone has been brought up to speed, the board will be setting more goals in the coming months.

© Kamloops This Week