Middle school plan proceeds

Lake Country council receives information from the Central Okanagan School District

  • Sep. 6, 2013 7:00 p.m.

KEVIN PARNELL

Black Press

Plans continue towards a new middle school next to Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary.

The Agriculture Land Commission will meet in October to discuss the tentative sale of the Aspen Grove Golf Course to the Central Okanagan School District. The ALC must decide whether or not to remove it from the Agriculture Land Reserve for sports fields.

A no vote could potentially void the deal between the district and the golf course and force the school district to find another location for the proposed middle school.

“Come October when we get the decision (from the ALC) we will have to assess whether we proceed with the purchase or whether other options need to be looked at,” said Emily Watson, school district planning manager.

“The (George Elliot) site would be inadequate without that (golf course) space.”

While the future of the proposed school awaits the decision by the ALC, Watson brought Lake Country council up to speed on plans at its Tuesday meeting.

The school district is now compiling a project identification report that will be submitted to the provincial government by the end of the year, laying out the need for a new school in Lake Country.

In the meantime, Watson said a stand-alone annex will be constructed using seven portables that have already been moved to George Elliot.

Grade 7s from Lake Country’s three elementary schools will be moved to the annex and begin a middle school curriculum in Sept. of 2014.

“It will be a mix of pre-existing portables and new construction,” said Watson.

“The whole thing will sit on a foundation with a roof over top. The exterior of the building will be re-clad and designed to fit in with the other school. There will be separate staff space, washrooms and Grade 7s will have lockers in the annex. From the inside it feels very much like a permanent school; much different than stand alone portables.”

Coun. Penny Gambell is concerned about using portables and asked the school district to proceed with caution.

“I would urge the school district to look very closely at what they are doing because it looks like they are putting the cart before the horse,” said Gambell.

Other councillors asked the school district about possible programs at the new school such as agriculture or sports academies and Watson said there would be community consultation before the school opens, which is still several years away.

“We’re not able to give a timeline on funding (from the province),” she said. “There are certain things we can do as a district to make the business case for this. Then it goes to the provincial government and there is uncertainty. You are at least three years from opening a school even when you do get confirmation (from government).”

When a new school is eventually built, plans are for it to house students in Grades 6, 7 and 8, while only Grade 7s will use the annex eliminating a space crunch at Lake Country’s three elementary schools.