OUR VIEW: Don’t let roof fall on wayside

Bayside Middle School’s leaky roof is finally getting the attention it needs to be replaced.

Bayside Middle School’s leaky roof is finally getting the attention it needs to be replaced.

And if the province doesn’t sit up and take notice of the matter, they are abandoning the safety and security of every student and staff member who works there.

In essence, however, the safety and security was put in question almost the very day the school was built. Dr. Keven Elder, the superintendent of School District 63 (Saanich) said he was vice-principal there at the time (1992) and even then, the roof leaked when there were heavy rains.

Despite a decade of remedial work done by the original contractor, the issues were not solved and responsibility for the structure fell solely to the School District. By then, it appears the province’s priorities had changed.

What happened is, in essence,the B.C. education ministry placed its focus on one safety issue over another.

Faced with the challenge of upgrading schools to be more earthquake-proof, ministry capital budgets were locked onto that target. If a school was applying for other upgrades that weren’t related to earthquakes, often they weren’t getting the money.

While that is certainly not the case in some examples — even within this school district, they received capital funds for a heating system at Prospect Lake School — it became the rule for Bayside’s roof replacement plan. Forced to limp along with school bucket-and-towel brigades, only the serious injury of a student last November and subsequent outcry over the conditions at Bayside, seem to have prompted action.

It’s about time. If the problems of a leaky roof are as bad as even the superintendent says, parents and staff have every right to be concerned — and mad that it has taken almost 20 years for anything to be done.

Yet, action remains fleeting. The District and ministry were expected to meet this week to discuss ways of finding the cash to buy a new, $2.6 million roof. The District has some cash to bring to the table now that it has sold the former McTavish Road School.

Now it’s time for the province to live up to its end and free up capital money to ensure students and staff have a solid roof over their heads.

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