News Local

Seismic upgrades will decimate budget, says Richmond trustee

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



The Richmond School District says its $67-million surplus isn’t going to last — especially if the Ministry of Education insists it wants school boards to contribute half the costs of seismic upgrades.

Board chairwoman Donna Sargent said on Tuesday $20 million of that money is tied up for such things as retirement payments saved for the future and school supply replacements — computers, network infrastructure and maintenance, for example.

Another $41 million was directly from the sale of the former Steveston Secondary School. That sale, she said, won’t even be complete until the end of 2014.

That leaves about $6 million in contingency funding.

The school sale proceeds and the contingency would also need to cover costs for expanding the Hamilton school and for a new city centre school, she added.

Meanwhile, there are 23 schools designated for seismic upgrades in Richmond.

“We wouldn’t be able to work on a quarter of the seismic needs we have even with the money we have at this point,” Sargent said.

She said the B.C. School Trustees Association is trying to meet with the government’s treasury board to explain the financial situation, but they haven’t heard back.

“We can’t gather money so our seismic and our capital needs would not be met and seismic would not be done to our schools to make them safe.”




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