If there’s an outdated heating boiler left in any B.C. school, Education Minister Mike Bernier is going to fix it.
Bernier announced Wednesday the latest of what he’s now calling “school enhancement” funds for B.C. public schools. This one is $20 million, with a deadline for school districts to apply for projects that must be complete by next March.
Districts can resubmit applications that didn’t make it in the “fix-it” fund announced in May, which grew from $40 million to $45 million as successful projects were announced. Replacement flooring is now eligible, in addition to plumbing, heating, roof replacement, windows, lighting and electrical upgrades.
Energy efficiency upgrades for schools have been targeted since 2012, when the B.C. Liberal government began setting aside $5 million a year from carbon tax charged to school districts in a dedicated fund to reduce fuel use.
Bernier and Premier Christy Clark have rolled out a series of education funding top-ups since June, including a transportation fund to keep districts from charging for bus service, a fund to keep designated rural schools open and the return of $25 million in “administrative savings” that the education ministry required for the last two years.
The fix-it fund is in addition to the province’s annual ministry budget, which includes $1.7 billion over three years for new schools and major projects such as seismic upgrades.