The School District 72 Board of Education is calling for community support to help their efforts as they lobby the Ministry of Education to approve and fund a new Cedar Elementary School, the oldest school building in the district.
For over six years, the Board of Education has consistently identified and submitted the replacement of Cedar Elementary to the Ministry of Education as the district's highest capital need.
Built in the 1950s and expanded in the early 1960s, the school continues to rank as one of the schools in the poorest condition across the province on their own facility condition index, despite regular maintenance from the district and rounds of seismic upgrading from the province.
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 and they have a vision for how a new school could better meet student and community needs.
"Our maintenance staff, Cedar Elementary staff and rest of the school community have maintained the building to the best of their ability and strived to create as 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 resolves longstanding safety concerns, is conducive to modern ways of teaching and learning, integrates community supports under one roof while becoming a neighbourhood learning centre, and honours the Indigenous heritage of most of the students in the school. The new school building could also 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-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.
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," says Kerr. "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 and how you can lend your voice to support the district's efforts for funding approval visit www.sd72.bc.ca/newcedar.
Jennifer Patrick, Manager of Communications
Phone: (250) 830.2333