Summerland Secondary School will receive a new roof and exterior improvements. The province is contributing $1.1 million to the upgrades.

Summerland Secondary School will receive a new roof and exterior improvements. The province is contributing $1.1 million to the upgrades.

Upgrades planned for Summerland Secondary School

The provincial government is spending $1.1 million for upgrades and improvements to Summerland Secondary School.

The provincial government is spending $1.1 million for upgrades and improvements to Summerland Secondary School.

The Okanagan Skaha School District will contribute $100,000 to the work.

The improvements include an exterior upgrade and roof replacement.

Linda Van Alphen, chair of the school board, said the schoolis in need of the upgrade work.

“We have a real problem with students getting up on top of the school roof,” she said, adding that there are concerns about liability if there is an accident.

Improving the exterior of the building has also been a priority for many years, she said.

The upgrades are expected to add to the life of the building and increase efficiency.

The high school was built in 1951 and since that time, it has undergone several expansions.

The work is part of a $45-million School Enhancement Program.

“Strong financial accountability enables the government to improve the infrastructure of our schools through the School Enhancement Program,” Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said.

A total of 80 schools across British Columbia are receiving upgrades. The upgrade work at Summerland Secondary School is the only project within this school district.

The work must be substantially completed by March 31, 2017.

Ministry of Education officials said the fix-it fund helps schools make improvements to heating and ventilation systems, roof repairs and other upgrades.

The announcement of the upgrade work came days after the school board held its final vote on a decision to close Trout Creek Elementary School and two other schools.

However, Van Alphen said the $1.1 million from the province could not have been used to keep the schools open.

“It’s money that we could not use for operations,” she said. “It had to go to school buildings.”

The school closures were part of an effort to balance the school district’s budget and cope with declining enrolment.

With the closures, enrolment within the school district is now at roughly 86 per cent, Van Alphen said, up from 74 to 75 per cent of capacity earlier.

The school district has been facing declining enrolment figures for many years.

Since the 2000 to 2001 school year, the enrolment within the school district has dropped by more than 2,000 students, but during that same time, funding for the school district has increased by more than $5.5 million.

Provincewide, public schools in British Columbia received more than $5.1 billion over the past year, an increase of $110 million.