Students in Fernie can look forward to better learning environments with an expanded Isabella Dicken Elementary school, and students and families for generations to come will benefit from the purchase of land to build a school in the future.
“No matter where they live, students deserve schools that will help them succeed in their education and do well in life,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Our government has made it a top priority from the start to address urgent enrolment needs for schools throughout the province. We are making forward-thinking investments in our children and the future of fast-growing communities in British Columbia.”
The Government of B.C. is providing $11.4 million for an 80-seat addition at Isabella Dicken Elementary school and a school site purchase in Fernie. The Southeast Kootenay School District board will contribute an additional $500,000 toward the expansion project.
Construction on Isabella Dicken Elementary is scheduled to begin in fall 2021, with new classrooms expected to be ready for students by September 2022.
“We are grateful to Minister Whiteside, former education minister Rob Fleming and the ministry staff who have acknowledged the critical education needs of Fernie and the district with the expansion to Isabella Dicken Elementary and the acquisition of a site for a new school,” said Frank Lento, chair, Southeast Kootenay Board of Education. “We look forward to these new school spaces that will meet a student-centred approach to support their multiple intelligences and physical, social and emotional stages of development.”
The new, single-storey addition at Isabella Dicken will include four new kindergarten classrooms, media technology room, a special education room and a multipurpose room. This will ensure the school can serve more Fernie families as the community grows.
"This is such exciting news for all families in Fernie,” said Nicole Heckendorf, chair, Isabella Dicken Elementary school (ÉIDES) parent advisory committee (PAC). “As a PAC, we have been in awe of the abilities of our ÉIDES staff as they've adapted to the challenges they've faced with respect to the physical limitations of the school. Their leadership, creativity and positive energy is what continues to make ÉIDES such a vibrant and dynamic school. This expansion, along with the purchase of land for a future school, is a much-needed and welcomed investment in education. We applaud everyone who played a role in making this happen and cannot wait to watch it unfold."
With funding now in place, the district has purchased land between Cokato Road and Whitetail Drive on Montane Parkway in south Fernie for a future school site. As Fernie’s population is expected to continue its growth, this investment ensures land is in place for a new school as soon as it is needed.
Investments in upgraded schools are part of government’s commitment to ensure every B.C. student has better access to education, community services, recreation and culture.
In the last three years, the Province has announced more than $2.1 billion for 105 school capital projects, including $760 million to create 13,200 student seats at new and expanded schools in fast-growing communities throughout British Columbia. To further keep up with enrolment growth, government has invested $211 million to purchase 14 sites for future schools since September 2017.
Budget 2020 includes a record $2.8 billion for seismic upgrades and replacements, new and expanded schools, and land purchases for future schools.