Calls for a Replacement of Prince Rupert Middle School Have Grown Louder
The calls for a replacement of Prince Rupert Middle School have grown louder with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice adding her voice to the equation demanding the Ministry make this a priority.
Rice says the Christy Clark government is letting down Prince Rupert children and youth by failing to take action to address deteriorating conditions at the Middle school
During a tour of the school today we were shown Prince Rupert Middle Schools basement, which is said to have constant floods. The aged boilers, which were installed refurbished, and are inefficient and obsolete, as well as roof leaks in classrooms and unsightly decaying walls.
The school district applied to have the boilers replaced under the Ministry of Education’s Carbon Neutral Capital Program, but was denied-- preventing an annual savings of 40-thousand dollars in utilities under the program.
Prince Rupert Middle School also has the highest seismic risk rating in the north.
Rice says the problem is that the School District has applied for grants to see upgrades or a replacement but the district’s calls have fallen on deaf ears.
“The school by independent consultants is deemed beyond its useful life, it was built in 1958, the boilers are archaic and there are constantly problems with heat, power shutting down, you know the list goes on and on and on,” says Rice.
What the pictures don’t show you is the smell of mold permeating through the air.
“I certainly heard lots of complaints about the smell and the issues with the area around the shop and I know in a recent letter by the Trustee Chair Last to the Ministry of Education, they talked about having to even close maybe that part of the school because it has been such a nuisance and difficult for the people that are working and learning there,” says Sawka.
“Even the kids are telling me about how bad their classroom smells, that’s a huge distraction for children and I think we can do way better,” says Rice.
Raegan Sawka, President of the School District Teacher’s Union says she’s concerned with the amount of money that’s been allocated toward upgrading schools from money that was promised to them by the Ministry four years ago for seismic upgrades.
“I think that’s really dragging our feet around school safety and around the safety for our students. I’ve seen letters and petitions all across the province, especially in the lower mainland too where we see seismic issues, but also over-crowding—there’s thousands of kids that go to school in portables across the province and that’s just really unacceptable,” says Sawka.
Rice says as of January 2017, the school, which needs 8-million dollars in seismic upgrades didn’t even make a priority list from the Minister of Education, which she says is an abject neglect to 400 Prince Rupert students, as well as over 50 teachers and staff that are employed there.
Rice says she personally asked Minister Bernier when is he intends on replacing the school and when he’s going to deal with health and safety issues that students, teachers and staff are currently experiencing.
"Now the response to my question was on a tangent about lead and how he’s done a good job of addressing the lead in the drinking water issue, but he didn’t touch on any of the other matters. I’m not sure if that’s just avoiding dealing with the topic or if that’s just clear ignorance of the dire situation of the kids, teachers and staff are facing in Prince Rupert."
Some reports say that the middle school needs between 20 and 30-million dollars to be replaced and Rice says the prudent thing to do here is simple… replace it!!!
“This is not about frivolous extras; this is about a basic fundamental learning environment for children that are clearly not being met here,” says Rice.