Bob Phillips calls it “encouraging” that the B.C. Education Ministry is handing out $20 million in extra cash to fix up schools, but he’s not so sure any money will come the Sooke District’s way.
“I’m sort of wondering if more money is available that we won’t be on the shortlist this time,” said Phillips, chair of the board of education. “We’ve gotten our fair share of that kind of money from the government.”
Over the last few years, the school district completed construction of Belmont and Royal Bay high schools, seismic upgrades at Ruth King elementary and Spencer middle school, an addition to Happy Valley elementary, boiler and roof replacement at Edward Milne community school and “deluxe” portables at Sooke elementary.
Phillips said school trustees would have to debate what is needed in the district before applying for new funding.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced what he called “school enhancement” funds for B.C. public schools.
Districts can resubmit applications that didn’t make it in the “fix-it” fund announced in May, which grew from $40 million to $45 million as successful projects were announced. Replacement flooring is now eligible, along with plumbing, heating, roof replacement, windows, lighting and electrical upgrades.
Bernier and Premier Christy Clark have rolled out a series of education funding top-ups since June, including a transportation fund to keep districts from charging for bus service, a fund designated to keep rural schools open and the return of $25 million in “administrative savings” that the Education Ministry required for the last two years.
The fix-it fund is in addition to the province’s annual ministry budget, which includes $1.7 billion over three years for new schools and major projects such as seismic upgrades.
Phillips said the Sooke School District has always attempted to have an open dialogue with the province, no matter if it was the NDP or Liberals in office.
“We’ve tried so hard over the years to have a good relationship with governments, because we believe that’s the way to do things credibly,” he said.