Promontory elementary again tops Chilliwack school board’s five-year capital plan

Chilliwack school district's five-year capital plan wishlist includes additions to Promontory elementary, Sardis elementary, and GW Graham.

Additions to Promontory Heights elementary, Sardis elementary, and GW Graham secondary top this year’s five-year capital plan priority list for Chilliwack school district.

Combined, the three schools have 15 portables on site; six at Promontory, five plus a modular at Sardis, and 3 at GWG.

Projections indicate student enrollment will continue to grow at those schools, which will require even more portables if not expanded in the future.

“Promontory Heights is almost in crisis as far as enrollment goes,” said trustee Heather Maahs. “They just keep building, building, building up there and there’s just no room for the children. It needs to be number 1.”

However, topping the list does not guarantee funding approval.

Every year the school district is required to submit a “wish list” for capital funding to the B.C. education ministry.

There is no guarantee funding will be provided, and oftentimes school districts must source funding elsewhere when they can no longer wait on government funding.

The five-year capital plan is a method for indicating to the ministry of education the needs of a school district based on priority.

“I’m not expecting anything to turn sod this year,” said Gerry Slykhuis, secretary-treasurer.

Still, trustee Doug McKay expressed opposition with an addition for Promontory Heights again topping the list.

Promontory Heights was built for 300 students, plus 88 kindergarten students. It has had six portables on site for several years to accommodate a much larger student population as a result of the area’s rapid growth.

Currently the school has 545 students enrolled.

McKay said the school’s infrastructure, including its gymnasium, library and washrooms, was not built to accommodate a larger school population.

“I think Promontory is overbuilt, overpopulated and the site is too small,” for an addition,” McKay told The Progress. “The infrastructure was not designed to accommodate a school this size.

“I just don’t think spending all that money up there is a good investment period, and to have it number 1 on our list, I really don’t support that.”

An expansion for Promontory Heights has been high on the priority list for close to a decade, but continues to be overlooked by the ministry because the district has had space in other elementary schools.

The total estimated costs for the three expansions would be $15,193,792.