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Trustees keep up pressure over South Kam

Another school year begins, the 64th for aging Kam High
By Mike Youds
August 31, 2016 9:22 A.M.
On a December 2015 tour, South Kamloops Principal Rick Kienlein shows gym to Education Minister Mike Bernier, accompanied by school board chairwoman Denise Harper and Health Minister Terry Lake.

School trustees are counting on spring as they look ahead to a meeting with MLA Todd Stone over badly needed upgrades for South Kamloops secondary.

Trustees hope to meet with Stone in the coming weeks, and the sooner the better they say. 

The board senses there may be some momentum for the provincial government to look more favourably at a $1-million upgrade for the old school, built in 1952. 

If there is momentum, it doesn’t come from next week’s start of the school year — when South Kamloops secondary students return to a facility their grandparents may well have attended — but from a provincial election just around the corner. 

“The board is acutely aware of the provincial election,” said Denise Harper, school board chairwoman. “We want to discuss Kam High and it’s in his riding. We, frankly, want to take advantage of that.”

A $1-million investment would merely buy some time while a longer-term school replacement plan — requiring an estimated $50 million — comes together. That process can take half a dozen years or more.

The interim funding request was submitted a year ago to the Ministry of Education but there has been no commitment to this point. It might be described as a Plan B after an earlier request for school replacement capital funding went nowhere.

Last August, the province announced $20 million for school upgrades across the province. In May, another $145 million went to repair, upgrade and improve 80 schools across the province, but the South Kam project wasn’t among those funded. 

On Wednesday, another $20 million funding was announced by the ministry through its School Enhancement Program.

Stone has to be well aware of the issues surrounding the aging South Kam. He not only attended Kam High, as it was formerly known, but also toured the school shortly after being elected to office to get a firsthand look at its outmoded facilities. As well, Education Minister Mike Bernier and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake toured the school with Harper late last year.

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