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Central Okanagan population growth has schools bursting at the seams: survey

Mount Boucherie Secondary School in West Kelowna. Google Maps

The incredible population growth happening in the Central Okanagan is proving to be a strain for the school district.

In 2001, the regional district had an estimated population of 147,000. Today, the latest figures put it at 217,000.

With an annual population growth of around 2.2. per cent, many of the area’s schools are either overcrowded or will become overcrowded, according to a new survey issued by Central Okanagan Public Schools.

Read more: Population in Central Okanagan may rise by 64,000 over next 20 years: Report

Available online, the Long Term Facilities Plan Review discusses many topics, but chief among them are overcrowding and how new schools are needed.

At the top of the overcrowding list is West Kelowna’s Mount Boucherie Secondary School, which has an estimated student body of 1,500.

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The survey says the school has a capacity of 1,325 and that by 2029, the student body population will be 1,800.

Right behind is Kelowna Secondary School (KSS), which has an estimated student body of 1,800.

That high school has exceeded its building capacity of 1,600 for the last 10 years, and projected increases are 2 per cent for next year and 10 per cent over the next three years.

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“The school does not have any more classroom space or the ability to add portables to accommodate additional students,” the survey said of KSS.

A request has been made for a new secondary school in Kelowna, said the survey, but that would take three to four years after provincial approval.

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The survey also discussed future crowding at Rutland Senior Secondary in Kelowna, which will exceed its capacity of 1,550 in 2023 and reach 1,750 by 2029.

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School district board chairperson Moyra Baxter said the region’s wish list to the province includes a new secondary school in West Kelowna, aging Rutland Middle School being replaced and another secondary school for Kelowna.

Baxter hopes parents of students take time to read the survey so they understand the growing strains the school district is under.

“I hope that it also explains that we have to convince the government that they need to fund us for some of these changes that we need,” said Baxter.

To view the Long Term Facilities Plan, click here.

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