Students in Fernie will have access to more learning spaces with an expansion to Isabella Dicken Elementary School and the purchase of land to build a new 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 B.C. Government said it is providing $11.4-million for the 80-seat expansion and the purchase of the future school site. Another $500,000 for the expansion project will be provided by the Southeast Kootenay School District board.
Construction on Isabella Dicken Elementary will start in the fall of 2021, with the project expected to be ready for students by September of 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 single-story addition will include four new kindergarten classrooms, a media technology room, a special education room, and a multipurpose room to help the school facilitate 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.”
As for the new land purchase, the Province said a plot along Cokato Road and Whitetail Drive on Montane Parkway in south Fernie will be the site of a new school in the future. The investment makes sure the land is in place for the construction of a new school when the community needs it.