Promontory school expansion sought again

Chilliwack is once again looking to Victoria to fund new school additions and new schools in the city's south end.

A $3.6 million addition to Promontory elementary school tops the Chilliwack school  district’s five-year capital wish list again this year.

A $3.6 million addition to Promontory elementary school tops the Chilliwack school district’s five-year capital wish list again this year.

A $3.6 million addition to Promontory elementary school tops the Chilliwack school  district’s five-year capital wish list again this year.

Second on the list is a $14.8 million new school for Chilliwack’s south end.

The requests are part of the school district’s five-year capital plan.

Each year school districts are required to submit a list of spending priorities to the province covering the next five years.

Additional classroom capacity in the city’s growing south side is a familiar theme in this year’s plan – as it has been in every other plan sent to Victoria.

Fourth on the list is a $7.8 million addition to GW Graham middle secondary, which only opened in 2007.

In all, the Chilliwack school district is looking for nearly $20 million for 11 priority projects this year.

The funding request for the new southside school is stretched over three years, with $6 million sought in 2016/17 for site acquisition, and a further $8.5 million requested in 2019/20 for construction.

Additional classroom space in Chilliwack is not a new request, particularly for Promontory elementary, which was built for 300 students and now has twice that many. Currently there are six portable classrooms at the school, with a seventh expected to be added this summer.

Three years ago Trustee Heather Maahs called the situation at the school a near crisis.

Complicating the process for the district, however, has been excess capacity at other schools. When the province considers money for new school construction it looks at the entire district, not just a particular neighbourhood.

In addition to new construction, the district is looking for more than $2 million to replace seven school buses.

It is also asking for money for mechanical upgrades at Little Mountain, Vedder, Watson and Unsworth elementary schools, as well as a new roof for Sardis secondary.

Earlier this month, the Chilliwack school district received word that it would be getting nearly $300,000 for a mechanical upgrade at Vedder middle school and a new bus. That decision came in response to last year’s capital funding request.