Last week when the B.C. government announced three schools in Chilliwack would be receiving $50,000 to build new playgrounds, some parents were shocked at the school selections.
G.W. Graham middle secondary, Vedder middle and Rosedale traditional will each be receiving $50,000 for new playgrounds; funding which was made available through government capital funds.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner was pleased with the announcement.
“Playgrounds are such an integral part of our childhood,” he said in a press release. “I know that they will help students and children in our community to create many lasting memories.”
Those words rang hollow for parents at Bernard elementary.
For two years the inner-city school has been trying to raise enough funds to replace its intermediate playground, which has been condemned by the school district and will be removed at the end of the school year whether or not enough funding for a new one is in place.
Deana Reid, vice president of the school’s parents’ advisory council, understood the allotment for Rosedale traditional, a kindergarten to Grade 9 school, but not for a middle school and a middle-secondary school.
The youngest students at middle schools are Grade 7 students.
“Those kids are more into hanging out, chatting, playing sports,” said Reid. “But here we have a true elementary school with an age group that will actually use the playground.”
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Education said the schools were identified by the school district as having the most need for playgrounds.
However, when contacted by The Progress, the school district was also confused by the school selection.
“We don’t quite understand why certain schools were chosen,” said superintendent Michael Audet.
Last spring, Chilliwack school district had completed two surveys for the Ministry of Education, prioritizing the needs of the district. And while Audet, wouldn’t go into detail as to what might have gone wrong, he said he will be communicating with ministry officials as to why these schools were chosen over others.
In the meantime, with approximately $8,000 raised and a minimum of $25,000 required for a small playground structure, Bernard elementary continues its fundraising efforts.
“It’s disappointing, but as a school that has gone through this for years and not getting anything, we don’t count on it,” said Reid, noting that the PAC had fundraised for five years to replace its primary playground five years ago, and received no help from the government.
“If we get funding, oh my God, that would be wonderful, but it’s not something we hold out hope for because we’ve been let down so many times.”