Victoria: Thousands of British Columbia students will learn and travel to school more safely and comfortably as $206 million flows to school districts for energy upgrades, maintenance projects and new buses.
“For too many years, maintenance projects weren’t funded properly, and now we are providing school districts with increased resources to improve schools for students,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This funding provides better instructional environments for both teachers and learners to focus more of their energies on student success.”
This year’s funding is a $20.6-million increase from 2016-17. It is broken down into five programs:
- School Enhancement Program
- Carbon Neutral Capital Program
- Bus Acquisition Program
- Building Envelope Program
- Annual Facility Grant
The School Enhancement Program provides $65 million for 127 school projects throughout the province, including mechanical upgrades and safety improvements.
Through the Carbon Neutral Capital Program, 19 school districts are receiving a combined $5 million for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.
This year’s Bus Acquisition Program provides $13 million for 81 new school buses provincewide, so students can be transported to and from school safely.
The Building Envelope Program supports districts to remediate schools that have experienced water damage. In 2019-20, $8 million is allocated for this work.
In addition to these programs, the $115.5-million Annual Facilities Grant will allow all school districts to undertake additional maintenance projects that promote the continued safe and efficient operation of schools. Funding for this program was increased by government in 2018 by $5 million, the first increase since 2004.
“CUPE’s K-12 Presidents Council is pleased that revenues are being targeted for the maintenance and much-needed upgrades to more than 50 school districts around the province. It is also very encouraging to see that safe transportation of students is a priority for this government,” said Warren Williams, president, K-12 Presidents Council. “Students need safe and inclusive learning environments, and this funding is a step in the right direction.”
Many of the projects supported under these programs will benefit school districts through saving money on electricity, natural gas, fuel and ongoing maintenance. Those savings can be reinvested in classrooms to support student learning.