The B.C. government has announced that $240.5 million in maintenance grants will be allocated toward schools across the province over the course of this year.
The maintenance grants funding, which will be distributed to schools that host students in grades K-12, marks an increase of 10.5 per cent over the year prior.
The funding will be utilized for a variety of maintenance projects that will vary between districts and include benefits such as better ventilation, electric buses and increasing energy efficiency.
“With over 1,500 public schools throughout our province, maintaining and improving our facilities is a critical priority to ensure students are learning in healthy, efficient and positive environments, no matter where they live,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.
“From ventilation and heating to energy efficiency and lighting, increased maintenance funding allows districts to tackle immediate priorities and focus on providing the best learning experience possible for every B.C. student.”
The province says that $15 million of this year’s grants will go to purchase more than 100 new school buses, including electric school buses in various districts. The government notes that these electric buses support the CleanBC targets for public sector organizations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 for vehicle fleets.
“We are creating a cleaner environment for students and putting future generations on the road to a clean energy future,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Not only are these electric school buses reducing air pollution, but they also cost less over time to operate.”
Another benefit from these maintenance grants will be better ventilation systems in select schools.
The government says that the Carbon Neutral Capital Program was raised $23 million this year — an increase of $5.8 million. The program funds projects that reduce GHG emissions and increase energy efficiency, which include improvements such as new HVAC systems, solar panels and electric-vehicle charging stations.
“Our children and grandchildren deserve every opportunity for a healthy, clean future and our investment in better learning environments through CleanBC is one of the best we can make to see that happen,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “That’s why we’re providing more funding than ever before to help reduce pollution through better schools, more electric school buses and expanded renewable energy.”
HVAC systems will be improved at 84 schools, while electrical systems will be improved at 66 schools and energy system upgrades will be applied at 26 schools throughout B.C.
“I’m pleased to see this increase in funding, as it helps support the important services provided by the 30,000 CUPE members who work in the public K-12 system,” said Paul Faoro, president, CUPE BC. “And initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of our schools benefits everyone.”
The province says that school maintenance funding is part of its commitment to ensuring students have the best learning experience possible in safe, positive and inspiring schools.