Dear Editor:

Another school year is upon us and the media has been strongly focused on the supportive housing situation in Rutland.

But it is important not to forget about Rutland Middle School.

It is now 71 years old. There has been no progress or announcement to upgrade, rebuild or expand RMS. The lack of progress for a new RMS has been extremely disappointing to our community.

Instead, students, teachers and support staff at RMS will be returning to a school that now has 12 repurposed portables, which are eating up the shared sports fields with Rutland Senior Secondary and the main core building continues to age.

RMS has had additional washrooms installed on the second floor of the building this past spring. The addition of these toilet facilities is appreciated, but they are a band-aid solution. The bigger challenges RMS will face over the next decade will be maintenance, accessibility, a steadily growing population and safety concerns for the students. All of which could be resolved with a new school.

I cannot help but feel envious of the Canyon Falls Middle School in the Upper Mission ($38 million to build). This school was needed due to growth. It is hard not to be unhappy when the students at RMS and other schools are attending school buildings that are not to the same standards. Children are supposed to be attending public schools that are equivalent.

The school district and the trustees have lobbied actively for RMS to be replaced, but with no success. Eleven years seems too long. The process is completely infuriating. Common sense seems to have been lost at the government level about doing the right thing.

What I do know for sure is that the amazing teachers and staff at RMS will continue to provide the very best education to the students.

The students will not let the building define them as future citizens, instead they will be more diverse, resilient and innovative individuals.

The families in Rutland will not give up on their desire to have a school building that honours the Rutland students.

As many have learned recently, Rutland is a community of families that are determined and are not afraid to speak up for change.

Marie Howell

Rutland Middle School

PAC President