Funding for school repairs has been reinstated for next year’s budget, but there are new limitations on how it can be spent.
“We have minor and major projects, but it is very restrictive, we can’t accumulate it, so the biggest needs will go unattended,” secretary-treasurer John Martin said of the $700,000 grant that must be spent next year or returned to the government.
The annual facilities grant was, for many years, used to make both small and large repairs to schools. Smaller repairs were done quickly, and remaining funds from the the grant were saved year to year to tackle larger projects, explained Martin.
Last year, the grant was cut from school funding. This year about half the previous amount was designated to the district, and in the coming year the full funding will be reinstated at about $700,000.
“We are not complaining; we like getting the money,” said Martin. “We are just restricted in how we use it.”
The money must be used during the budget year it is granted and cannot be carried over to another year to save for a big project. And that is a dilemma for a school district that has several big projects on its plate.
A new heating system at Fort Rupert Elementary will be the top priority and the least expensive project to tackle, said Martin. That project was approved at the February board meeting, contingent on funding.
Two more costly projects are a new roof and structural seismic upgrades for Sunset Elementary and a new heating system for North Island Secondary, both estimated to cost more than $1 million. More than the grant could cover. Martin said the school district may have to break the Sunset project into stages.
“We could perhaps start with the gym at Sunset,” said Martin, adding the project would cost about $300,000. The district has applied for a separate capital grant for the NISS project.