West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling says Education Ministry officials have promised Whistler’s new secondary school will get at least $50,000 it needs to equip the facility for next month, but local educators aren’t counting on the money until they see it. Nebbeling said the money will be used to reinforce the roofs of four portables to withstand the snow load and to buy desks. Education officials estimated there would be 200 students when the secondary school opens its doors Sept. 3; 315 students have pre-registered. The province has a per-student funding formula to help cover school operating costs but doesn’t begin to adjust that figure until about the last week of September, when school is well underway. But for Whistler Secondary there are a number of shortfalls. Start up costs for the school were not sufficient for the number of students now enrolled. However, the province has put a freeze on capital expenditures for the time being, so the school board will have to wait and see if the province provides any more money for equipment and facilities. As well, the number of students has meant the school has had to hire more teachers. Principal Rick Smith has had no trouble soliciting applications for teaching positions in Whistler, but when teachers discover the cost of housing some turn down the offer to teach here. Smith doesn’t anticipate a shortage of teachers when the school opens but having to spend time recruiting teachers when there are other matters to deal with has put an extra burden on the principal. There are plans for the physical expansion of the Whistler school but it wasn’t anticipated to be necessary for a few years. Despite the obvious demand for more space locally the Ministry of Education hears similar complaints from most school districts and likely won’t be able to fund the addition for several years.


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