school board 

A revised five-year capital plan that included moving a second Whistler elementary school from sixth to third on the list of priorities was passed unanimously by the Howe Sound School Board Wednesday. The new capital plan, which must be submitted to the Ministry of Education by the end of the month, listed the expansion of Brackendale Junior Secondary — making it a full secondary school — as a top funding priority. A new elementary school in Pemberton, to replace the decrepit Signal Hill Elementary School, is now second on the list. A second Whistler elementary school, for 50 kindergarten students and 200 Grades 1-7 students, is third on the list. Fourth on the capital plan is an addition to the new Whistler Secondary which would give it capacity for 500 students. The capital plan recommendations were brought forward by Superintendent Doug Courtice and passed with little discussion. A five-year capital plan brought forward by school district staff two weeks ago listed the expansion of the existing Myrtle Philip elementary school as number two on the list of priorities. The expansion would have meant more portables and increased capacity to 450 students by 1998 but would not have increased the core facilities at the school. Enrolment projections suggest there will be 600 elementary students in Whistler by 1998. The expansion of Myrtle Philip school is still on the capital plan, but it is lower on the list. The capital plan lists funding priorities but it doesn’t necessarily mean the new schools and expansions will be done in order. In the Ministry of Education bureaucracy funding for planning must first be applied for, followed by funding for land acquisition and then funding for actual construction. In the case of Brackendale Junior Secondary, the $8.7 million needed to bring the school up to full secondary status have been applied for but have been withheld under the ministry’s current freeze on capital spending. As well, the school district likely will not be able to spend any money on the Brackendale school until the Cheekeye Fan flooding problems are resolved. A replacement school for Signal Hill in Pemberton may happen sooner because real estate developers have shown an interest in the school lands. However, a new site would have to be found and a new school built before sale of the Signal Hill lands could be completed. A second Whistler elementary school is likely still at least three years away. There is a good possibility a piece of Crown land at Spruce Grove, originally considered for a private school by Greenside Properties, could be obtained for little or no cost, but formal planning has yet to be started and the province is maintaining its freeze on capital spending. o o o

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