The Garden Valley School Division has approved a new 5-year capital plan. Superintendent Dan Ward says it's a fairly comprehensive plan.
"We have obviously a number of new schools in Garden Valley we're very, very happy about, but we have some aging infrastructure and some older schools as well," said Ward. Over the last number of years, Ward says building a new school took up a lot of the board's time and the administration's time. He says that's one of the advantages of not being involved in a school build right now.
"This gives us an opportunity, over the last few years and going forward, to actually focus on some of our infrastructure, some of it that is in need of some maintenance and some capital investment."
Two priority projects GVSD anticipates working on with Central Services is for investment in the structure of both J.R. Walkof School and Garden Valley Collegiate.
Ward says J.R. Walkof experienced some robust growth a number of years ago, which resulted in the need for additional portable classes. He says a wing was built from the huts to the school, which has greatly degraded over time and requires work.
"We're still using those modulars and we're hoping to work with the government to invest to replace that link between the main building and the portables. That proposal has not been approved, but we hope to work with government and certainly pitch that because it definitely is in need of a repair."
Structural work at GVC, in terms of re-enforcing the foundation piles underneath the auto shop, is also on the priority list. Ward says they want that program to be viable for many years into the future.
The Board is also proposing capital investment for a number of access projects.
"Access is nothing new to school divisions, but we are proposing some capital to support improving some of our access. One example would be Parkland School and widening the entrance door. Another improvement that we hope to make is an accessibility ramp at GVC to the gym. And our elevator at Winkler Elementary is in need of either an overhaul or to be replaced, as it's 30 years. And so it's nearing its end of life."
Ward says if he went over the entire list, it would hit almost every school in terms of needing something, whether it's a systems replacement, roofing, structural, or access project.
GVSD Board Chair Leah Klassen noted, historically, the board would take time to consult with the public during budget consultation, on the needs of some of the division's older schools. She said that then leads to the conversation about increased taxes.
"And we've been able to get a good consensus from our public that we don't want to leave our older buildings to crumble," said Klassen. "We want to be responsible with them, and now, though, with the inability to tax, (it) does cause some concern around the board table in how we're going to fund these projects if the government doesn't fund them."