Getting a new high school is such a big issue in Mission that it even dominated much of the discussion at the all-candidates’ debate Sept. 27 for those running for mayor and council.
This despite that it’s really school trustees that will have more impact on getting funding secured for a Mission Secondary School replacement.
“Our high school is embarrassing,” said Mission resident Sara Wilson, who attended the all-candidates’ meeting that didn’t include trustee candidates. “Our children deserve better and the provincial government needs to step up and get this done.”
The B.C. government has approved new high schools all across Metro Vancouver, including at New Westminster – replacing the city’s only secondary school.
In Burnaby, the city’s largest high school – Burnaby North Secondary – is in the middle of construction to replace its buildings that are not considered seismically safe.
But in Mission, parents are still waiting.
The latest movement is a letter from the Mission School District to Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s minister of education and childcare responding to her July 12 letter. “We appreciate your recognition of the frustration this has brought to the Board of Education and the larger community of Mission,” says board chair Tracy Loffler in the letter. “As you are aware, in March 2022 the school district received word that the MSS project had been deferred indefinitely due to increased enrolment pressures, and urgent life safety concerns at other school facilities due to extreme weather.”
The board is now telling the minister that recent announcements regarding provincial finances should mean the local school project gets pushed ahead.
“We understand that there are significant capital cost pressures for the province,” Loffler says. “However, in August 2022, the province announced that B.C. posted a $1.3-billion surplus, in contrast to a predicted $10-billion deficit. In light of the anticipated provincial surplus, the MPSD Board is requesting that that the province fulfill the NDP campaign election promise to replace Mission Senior Secondary with a new school. As we have a responsibility for ensuring our students and the community have suitable and safe educational facilities, and as we have already spent a significant amount of our local capital funds to plan for this project, we are asking once again that the Ecole Mission Secondary School replacement project be put back on the approved list for Major Capital Projects.”