Glenmerry Elementary School (GES) will receive a much needed upgrade and expansion by September 2024.
The provincial government is dedicating $33.6-M to the project, which will replace the aging facility with a safe and productive learning space, while reducing the school’s carbon footprint with an energy efficient design and strategy.
“We are so fortunate to be embarking on a journey that will provide the best possible learning environment for our children and we are so thankful that our voices at GES have been heard,” said Lisa Babcock, chair of the GES parent advisory council (PAC) in a release. “This rebuild will allow our children space to grow, learn and develop and will provide life-changing opportunities for many years to come.”
Construction on the project is slated to begin August 2022, and will see the school grow from 270 student seats to a modern space that will accommodate 435 eager learners from Kindergarten to Grade-7.
The school was built in 1959, and originally intended for children living in Glenmerry. Yet, since 2002 GES has been the only K-to Grade 7 public school in Trail, and added six portables to accomodate over 130 extra students.
Despite a couple renovations, GES has had ongoing maintenance issues typical of well-used structures more than 60 years old. With a school population of 370 enrolled students in 2018 and parents and buses dropping off and picking up their children at the same time, lack of space and increasing traffic congestion became major concerns.
Babcock and the GES PAC have been advocating for a new school since at least 2018, when they invited Trail city council to see the extent of the school’s disrepair and enlisted the help of Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy.
With the combined support of the community, the city, and Kootenay Columbia school board their cause was finally heard and the rebuild to be realized.
Catherine Zaitsoff, chair of Kootenay Columbia Board of Education said in the release that funding this school and building it sustainably with a community focus has everyone excited at the learning opportunities awaiting our students.
“We are grateful the Ministry of Education and the Government of British Columbia recognized the hard work our district staff, our Glenmerry school community and our Trail community put in to develop our proposal for a new Glenmerry school.”
Another exciting addition is that the new school will also include a neighbourhood learning centre that will provide community programming, as well as before- and after-school child care.
“Access to affordable, quality and inclusive child care close to home makes it easier for families to put down roots and plan for the future,” said Conroy, “By investing in child care on school grounds, we can help make things so much easier for busy families, while inspiring a lifelong appreciation for learning in young children.”
To their credit, the B.C. government has invested more than $2.2 billion in school capital projects over the past three years to replace aging schools, add more spaces in growing communities and accelerate seismic upgrades.
The upgrades are an important element of government’s CleanBC plan for a cleaner economy and building new and expanded schools in communities throughout B.C. is part of government’s plan to provide the best learning experience possible.
This includes funding to create 13,445 new student seats at 40 new or expanded schools, and seismically safe spaces for more than 30,000 students at 54 schools.