10.5% increase in maintenance grants for schools

BETTER ventilation, electric buses and increasing energy efficiency are some of the benefits for B.C. K-12 students and staff from $240.5 million in maintenance grants this year – a 10.5% increase over last year.

“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, on Tuesday. “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.”

$15 million of this year’s grants will go to purchase more than 100 new school buses, including electric school buses. The buses support the Province’s CleanBC targets for public sector organizations to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% 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.”

To further support CleanBC initiatives, the Carbon Neutral Capital Program was increased by $5.8 million to $23 million this year. This program funds projects that reduce GHG emissions and increase energy efficiency. This can include 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.”

Other school maintenance programs receiving increases are the Annual Facilities Grant, School Enhancement Program and Building Envelope Program, which offer districts access to funding to keep their facilities safe and efficient.

This includes improvements to HVAC systems at 84 schools, electrical systems at 66 schools and energy system upgrades 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.”

School maintenance funding is part of the Province’s commitment to ensuring students have the best learning experience possible in safe, positive and inspiring schools.

To support this commitment, Budget 2021 includes a record $3.5 billion for investments in school capital that also include new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools to support growing communities.

CleanBC is a pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. It supports government’s commitment to climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets and build a cleaner, stronger economy for everyone.