Kamloops-Thompson Board Meets Minister of Education and Child Care to Share Priorities: An Urgent Need for More Space and A Passion for Co-creating More Inclusive Spaces

Posted On Tuesday January 31, 2023

By Rhonda Kershaw, Vice Chair

January 31, 2023 

Our Board of Education was honoured to have Minister Singh join us on Sunday, January 22, 2023 to learn about our 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan priorities in connection to her mandate letter. We appreciated how open Minister Rachna Singh was to learn about our District and that she sought to have genuine conversation about the needs of our communities.

We shared our urgent need for more space and our passion and dedication for co-creating inclusive spaces in our district.

In her mandate letter, Minister Singh aims to respond to the needs of fast-growing communities. To that end, we shared that we desperately need financial support in this February 2023 budget for a new school in Pineview Valley:

  • Kamloops is in the top five fastest growing communities in BC.
  • May 19, 2021- Minister Whiteside announced support for a business case for Pineview Valley.
  • Since April 2021, we have completed 13 school catchment changes impacting 25% of our K-7 schools and re–opened a school in Southwest Kamloops.
  • McGowan Elementary School is at 160% utilization capacity with 4 portables. The 3 nearby schools that would be eligible to undergo a redistribution of students through a catchment change are at approximately 150% utilization capacity, on average, so they are overly full and relying on portables.
  • There is no room in nearby schools to do a catchment change, so our only option is a new school in Pineview Valley.

We also shared that we urgently need a financial contribution ($7.5 M) in this February 2023 budget to purchase the site for the Secondary School in Aberdeen.

  • In 5 years, students in southwest Kamloops will need a secondary school.
  • The current high schools are anticipated to be at 146% capacity.
  • On April 11, 2022, we had written to Minister Whiteside to share that we have a one-time chance to buy the only existing land available in Aberdeen for a price of $6.1M, prior to December 31, 2022. We still have this option, but there is immense pressure on the owner to sell, and the cost of the land has increased.
  • Securing this land is crucial to support our current and future secondary capacity needs in the southwest of Kamloops.

We also shared our connection to the Ministers’ mandate letter by declaring our passion for and dedication to co-creating inclusive spaces by working directly with students.  This was the purpose of Minister Singh’s visit– to launch the province’s K-12 anti-racism action plan during the first Student Equity Council Summit held at the Henry Grube Centre where 150+ students co-developed an SD73 K-12 Anti-racism action plan.

The students shared powerful stories with the Minister and her team (Assistant Deputy Minister, Jennifer McCrae, Associate Superintendent of Indigenous Education, Brad Baker). Everyone was moved by the leadership shown by the students who gifted us with their lived experiences as our starting point for co-creating a district anti-racism action plan.

We enjoyed our visit with Minister Singh, and we truly appreciated that she made our district her first stop in her new role as the Minister of Education and Child Care.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on Jan 31, 2023

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