B.C. schools need massive investment for repairs, upgrades: trustees

The province’s public schools need almost $9 billion in repairs and upgrades over the next five years, a report from B.C.’s school trustees says.

“School facility funding shortfalls are the result of decades of underfunding, impacting the quality of education in our schools and the well-being of students and staff,” said Carolyn Broady, president of the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA).

“Children deserve to learn in safe, modern, and resilient environments.”

The report points to many aging schools in B.C. that need work as part of their life cycle, including previously deferred maintenance repairs.

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It also looks at needed upgrades to make schools more resilient to climate change and extreme weather events, and meet government greenhouse gas targets.

“We must ensure our public education infrastructure can withstand extreme weather events,” said Broady. “Investing in climate adaptation isn’t just about protecting buildings and reducing carbon emissions, it’s about securing healthy, stable learning environments now and in the future.”

The nearly $9 billion figure does not take into account what the trustees say is needed to address population growth and overcrowding.

“There are currently 1,741 temporary portables in use throughout the province and an additional $7 billion is required for new schools, additions, and school site land acquisitions over the next five years,” said the BCSTA in a release.

The report’s recommendations include an immediate increase in capital funding to cover maintenance and new infrastructure, along with implementing new technologies to reduce emissions and adapt to extreme weather and “modernizing school area standards to meet today’s educational needs.”

While the report says progress has been made and trustees are thankful for increased investment in recent years, it argues that “a significant shortfall in public school capital funding continues to be evident.”

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