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$7M for 3 new Fort St. John schools 'only the beginning': Fassbender

Fort St. John is now even closer to breaking ground on three new schools, thanks to a $7 million funding allocation from the province. B.C.

Fort St. John is now even closer to breaking ground on three new schools, thanks to a $7 million funding allocation from the province.

B.C. Minister of Education Peter Fassbender was in town on Friday as part of the K-12 Innovation Tour, where he made the announcement.

“That $7 million is only the beginning of the investment that we are going to make in this community, it is going to allow us to acquire the school sites in this school district and it is a commitment to then build on those school sites. The facilities are going to be in Fort St. John and in the region for the years to come,” said Fassbender.

“Buildings are only buildings. What goes on inside those buildings and what goes on in the communities around them is what makes our education system what it is today.”

The funding will be divvied up between two site locations.  There will be $2.2 million for one elementary school in the northeast quadrant of the city, and $4.8 million for an elementary and a middle school in the northwest section.

“It is great to see the Ministry of Education recognizing the growing number of students attending SD 60 schools and the need to supply future infrastructure,” said Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm.

“By actual numbers Fort St. John is the fastest growing school district in the province and will need more schools in the future,” he added.

No timeline was given as to when construction would begin on the schools.

“Fort St. John is growing, unlike a lot of other areas, so we want to move as quickly as possible. I don’t have a fixed date yet, but we’re going to make sure we move it as quickly as we can to meet the need that’s here already,” said Fassbender.

The K-12 Innovation Tour began in Vancouver and had stops in Comox, Langley and Kelowna. The purpose is to support innovative learning opportunities for B.C. students.

K-12 Innovation Tour

As part of the K-12 Innovation Tour, B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender paid a visit to North Peace Secondary School to hear from local students about their education.

The student-led panel shared experiences as part of Northern Opportunities, the school’s duel credit programs, work experience, career training and ways to improve the education of students.

One particular topic that led to lengthy discussion was the issue of driver’s licenses. High school students fall into the graduated license program, which doesn’t allow them to get their full Class 5 license until they are 19 at the earliest. Since most companies require employees to have their full Class 5 license, they’re unable to hire students upon completion of their work experience.

The possibility of altering the rules for Northeast B.C. students was suggested, something that Fassbender said he would be willing to look in to.

“This region has a different set of dynamics than what you might find in a large metropolitan area like Vancouver, so I think we have to be open minded and look at some creative opportunities and try some things,” said Fassbender.

“I thought I would hear a lot of different things from students, but if that is a huge barrier in this community and this region for future job opportunities, I think we have to be willing to look at it.”

ahendry@ahnfsj.ca