What a shame it would be to see Victoria High School demolished. The classic building is important to the region, historically and esthetically. We would be the poorer for its removal.
And yet, the Greater Victoria School District is in the business of education, not heritage preservation, especially at a time when school officials are trying to make every education dollar count.
The school district has three options: tear down the old building and build a new school for 1,000 students for $50 million to $60 million; make seismic upgrades and other improvements for $60 million to $70 million; or retain the exterior and massively renovate the interior for $100 million to $110 million.
The second option appears to be a reasonable compromise, except that renovations on any scale will not increase the school’s current capacity of 850 students, and there are 300 students in the school’s catchment area who cannot attend there because the school is full.
The school board is seeking public input — two open houses have been scheduled in April and input can be provided through an online survey.
Victoria High, built in 1914, is often cited as the oldest public school building in western Canada. As such, it should be preserved, but the burden of that preservation should not fall on the school district — the province needs to assume that burden so the school district can focus its resources on education.