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More funding will improve schools for students

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:55 PDT, Fri March 17, 2023

Students throughout B.C. will soon be learning in safer, improved schools now that more funding is available to school districts.

“We are making historic investments in school capital projects across the province,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education. “Schools are the cornerstones of our communities, and our government is continuing to invest in our school infrastructure to ensure that our kids have clean, safe, modern places to learn, grow, and play.”

As part of Budget 2023, the province is providing $261.1 million in 2023-24 for school maintenance projects, including $41 million to upgrade heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems at 101 schools throughout B.C.

As part of the school maintenance funding, $13 million will go toward the purchase of at least 67 new school buses. Additional funding is being made available through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation for school districts that buy electric buses. This supports the province’s CleanBC targets for public-sector organizations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 for vehicle fleets.

“British Columbians are adopting cleaner vehicles at a remarkable rate and doing their part to reduce emissions and the impacts of climate change,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Every zero-emission vehicle on the road, especially medium- and heavy-duty ones, like buses that our students rely on every day, helps to reduce pollution, improve air quality, and keep our busy streets quiet.”

To further improve emissions reductions and energy efficiency at B.C. schools, the Ministry of Education and Child Care’s Carbon Neutral Capital Program is providing $23 million in 2023-24 to support energy and electrical upgrades at 86 schools. The Carbon Neutral Capital Program provides specific funding to energy-efficiency projects that lower school districts' carbon emissions.

To ensure school districts have access to flexible maintenance funding if repairs or issues arise throughout the year, the province is increasing the annual facility grant by an additional $26.6 million. As well, $147.1 million is available for school districts to address maintenance needs in a versatile way based on their priorities, keeping schools safe and functioning.

Investments in school maintenance are part of the province’s work to ensure students are learning in safe, positive and well-maintained schools.

In addition to maintenance projects, since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has announced $3.2 billion for new and improved schools as well as land purchases for future schools throughout the province. This includes adding almost 20,000 new student spaces and 33,000 seismically safe seats at B.C. schools.

Budget 2023 includes $3.4 billion for school capital projects over the next three years, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools. 

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