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School plans move forward to school board

In response to current overcrowding, the school district is recommending two plans to the school board.
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January 19, 2017 - 6:30 PM

CENTRAL OKANAGAN - The school district is taking action towards tackling overcrowding in local schools.

A project proposal for a grade reconfiguration in West Kelowna and a feasibility study for a new school in Lake Country were both approved to go to the school board, in Wednesday night’s school district meeting.

“We want people to know we’ve thought out the future and are trying to move this forward as quickly as possible,” said Larry Paul, secretary treasurer.

With schools in the district at 104 per cent capacity, more room for students is needed.

A feasibility study for a new middle school in Lake Country will be put forward to the school board and recommended it be put forward provincial government following last night’s meeting.

Due to greater growth than expected, the school district had to alter its original plan. It proposes building a middle school with grades six to eight, taking one grade out of the local elementary schools.

The school, if approved by the board and province, will be located on the other side of George Elliot Secondary.

The current Aspen Grove Golf Club would be turned into school sports fields. The school district already owns the land.

If the board approves the committees recommendation to propose the plan to the government, It should take one to two years for the government to approve funding the $36 million project.

Plans to reconfigure the schools in West Kelowna will take a bit longer.

While Lake Country plans are in the second stages of negotiations, West Kelowna schools are just beginning.

“Our plan makes a lot of sense. We’re going to send it forward to the government and start getting them accustomed to the idea,” says Paul.

The plan is to turn Glenrosa Middle School into a high school, with grades nine through 12.

According to Paul, the costs to turn Glenrosa into a functioning high school aren’t that great, with roughly half the costs going towards expanding parking for the school.

Since Glenrosa Middle School is further out of the downtown core than other schools, it made sense to make it a high school.

“For high school students you have more transportation flexibility,” says Paul. “Senior teenagers are more comfortable using public transit and are also at a point to drive themselves.”

A new middle school is proposed to be built near George Pringle Elementary School. This would focus grades kindergarten to eight closer to the downtown area.

“We want to make it convenient for parents to drop their kids at school.”

The entire proposal, including the grade reconfiguration as well as the new middle school are estimated at $29 million.

However, the district expects it will be about eight years until those plans are in place.

Although the entire district is dealing with over crowding issues, Chute Lake Elementary proves to be the most prominent.

“Chute Lake has been full since the day it opened,” says Paul. “We built it at the maximum size and have since added two modulars.”

“We certainly have been growing and haven’t had a lot of expansion,” says Paul. “We’re managing the space we have to the best of our abilities.”

- This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 21st to add that the committee has approved the plans, and is now recommending them to the School Board. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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