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New, improved elementary school opens in Smithers

New, improved elementary school opens in Smithers

September 2, 2021 at 1:39 pm  BC, News, Politics

It is not just the start of a new school year for Walnut Park Elementary students and staff – it is also the opening of a school with spaces for 440 kindergarten to Grade 7 students.

“Every student in B.C. deserves to have the best learning experience possible, in a safe and supportive environment,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “The new Walnut Park Elementary will be a place for students to learn, grow and thrive for generations to come and will be an important community hub, supporting families and residents.”

The Government of B.C. provided $29.17 million for the project and the Bulkley Valley School District contributed an additional $2.36 million.

The new school features open and collaborative learning spaces that reflect modern education standards and practices. The building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold standards, so students will be learning in a sustainable and healthy environment. The previous school building was showing signs of old age and structural deficiencies, and will be demolished.

“School District 54 is pleased to have worked in partnership with the government to provide this new, innovative and safe space for our students to thrive,” said Jennifer Williams, chair, Bulkley Valley Board of Education. “The child care space within the facility is much needed in the community, and the new neighborhood learning centre with 42 seats will be a welcomed addition.”

The Province funded the new child care spaces with a $2.51-million investment.

“Creating more child care spaces on school grounds is an important part of our work to build an inclusive universal child care system for B.C. families,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Providing early years programming on school grounds helps to build stronger, more connected communities and helps kids build a strong foundation for lifelong learning.”

A StrongStart program will provide early education opportunities to children under the age of five in the neighbourhood learning centre.

“As a proud parent and the local MLA for Walnut Park Elementary, I’m pleased our government is investing in our community’s future,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine. “Having early learning and child care options on the same site gives families greater peace of mind knowing our children are safe in one place throughout the day and is more convenient for families with children of different ages.”

The new Walnut Park Elementary school is part of the Province’s work to improve schools in communities throughout B.C.

Budget 2021 includes almost $3.5 billion for school capital investments, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and site purchases to ensure land is in place to accommodate fast-growing communities throughout the province.

Learn More:

For more information about major public school capital projects underway, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/major-capital-projects

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