Mike Davies/Mirror File Photo Phoenix shop teacher Brianne Gale shows some Grade 8 students how to properly clamp and cut a piece of driftwood on a piece of the district’s aging equipment. The district has received $184,000 to update some of its trades equipment, but that was only about a third of what they asked for.

Some – but not much – Campbell River School District trades equipment to get an upgrade

‘We identified a need of $634,000, and I don’t think any of that would be considered frivilous’

The Campbell River School District will get as much value as they can out of some recent trades equipment funding, but at least one trustee says it would be nice if the government would take the province-wide need more seriously.

Back in November, the provincial government announced a $15-million Youth Trades Capital Equipment Fund, asking for school districts across the province to assess their needs and then apply for money to fill them.

“Our staff set out a process to gather information about where all the needs and priorities were,” Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board at last week’s public meeting. “We have some equipment that is quite old in the schools and it’s costly to replace. Although we’ve been trying to do our best, we’re quite behind in that.”

And so, Patrick told the board, the district’s director of instruction and manager of operations worked together and identified 39 items and came up with cost estimates for those items.

“We requested a total amount of $634,000,” Patrick said. “Of that, we were approved for $184,000 over three years. So, not as much as we needed, but I would suggest that it’s still substantial. It’s $60,000 to $70,000 per year.”

Trustee John Kerr, while appreciative that they will have some money to buy some new trades equipment for the schools, responded to the announcement by saying he feels the government is short changing B.C. students by forcing them to use outdated equipment.

“We identified a need of $634,000, and I don’t think any of that would be considered frivilous,” Kerr said. “And we were given less than a third of that. And I’m looking at reports that are talking about the number of new jobs that are going to be created over the next 15 or 20 years and the demand for trades. Our system, I think, does very well in terms of post-secondary on the academic end of things, but I’m kind of concerned about how well we’re preparing our graduating students to go into post-secondary trades training.”

Kerr continued by adding that he’s seen the equipment district students are using – and what he’s seen is disappointing.

“When these graduates go into these training programs and out into the workforce, they’re not going to be using 40-year-old lathes and stuff like that. They’re going to be needing to use modern equipment and it feels to me they’re going to be a step or two behind when they have to move into a post-secondary program that is using that modern equipment when they’re coming from stuff that’s dated.

“I can appreciate the $184,000, but I’m sure that $634,000 was needed,” he continued. “I think, sometimes, that if you’re going to talk the talk you’d better walk the walk. If you’re talking about the importance of the trades and in training tradespeople for the future of the B.C. economy, it seems to me it would be logical to fund it properly.”

But Trustee Ted Foster pointed out to Trustee Kerr that they received approximately an equivalent percentage of the fund to their percentage of students province-wide.

“It’s quite simple,” Foster said. “One per cent of $15 million is $150,000 and what we got is pretty close to that.”

As for what will happen to the old, outdated equipment being replaced, district communications and community engagement officer Jennifer Patrick says it will all be assessed and if it can be salvaged for parts, that will happen, but if it can’t – but could still have some value – it will be auctioned off to the public.