Prince Rupert Middle School Legislature

"When will the B-C government commit to replacing Prince Rupert Middle School?"

That was the question North Coast M-L-A Jennifer Rice fired at Education Minister Mike Bernier in the Legislature yesterday.

And as CFTK TV’s Cierra Wilson reports, the minister responded with a promise to come and take a first-hand look at the issue next week.

“Now we’re at this point where things have been neglected for so long that the school is beyond repair—it cannot be fixed. His own ministry’s report says that the school is beyond its useful life,” says Rice.

Rice says parents are fed up and demand a safe and healthy learning environment for their children—they even went as far as petitioning—receiving 300 signatures.  Though, during her presentation Rice says the Minister of Education’s response was to laugh and scoff.

“He was essentially mocking the presentation of the petition. I find that really immature and really telling of the priorities of this government,” says Rice.

Education advocate Sarah Miller, who was at the legislature says she witnessed what she felt was a complete disregard for the parent concerns that Rice brought forward.

“Making gestures at her and winky faces and it was just such a disgusting display to witness and you know, this question period—it was my first time ever visiting the legislature and I kind of expected more from them I’d say,” says Miller.

B-C Education Minister Mike Bernier says he plans to see for himself next week the condition that Prince Rupert Middle School is in.

"I'm going up there to meet with that school district in just a week, make sure I'm touring that school, to make sure we're actually looking at these issues that they're facing. Honourable Speaker, the commitment that we've made is to work with that school district and every school district in the province of British Columbia on what their priorities are, on how we as a government can make sure we make the investments for those students and for those school districts."

Rice says upon Minister Bernier’s visit, she hopes to see an announcement of a new middle school for the 400 children and more than 50 teachers and staff that work in the environment.

“I’m really hoping that when he gets a tour of the school that he sees how bad it really is and that will motivate him to take immediate action to fix it,” says Rice.

Rice adds the battle over a replacement school has been ongoing for over a decade-- the school district has made many attempts to get it addressed and their questions have essentially gone ignored.

“It’s very interesting that it’s taken that long and coincidentally before an election where all the money is being handed out, that that’s the motivation. The motivation should be providing safe, quality education for our children, not for political gain," says Rice.

He just wanted to go on about the record high funding that his governments providing, but he didn’t want to specifically talk about the 400 families that are dealing with this situation in Prince Rupert. 

Miller says she would like Minister Bernier to stop ignoring what she calls obvious issues that are clearly pointing to an underfunding problem in the system.

“I would ask him to put the politics aside and really think about the children and the conditions that they’re being forced to learn in,” says Miller.