Education Minister Mike Bernier announces replacement of century-old Lord Nelson elementary in Vancouver

Equipment fund latest top-up for schools

Latest one-time fund is $29.4 million "student learning grant" for textbooks, equipment and supplies

On the eve of its pre-election budget, the B.C. government has added to its year-long series of public school funding top-ups with $29.4 million for textbooks, equipment and supplies.

The one-time “student learning grant” will soon be distributed to B.C.’s 60 public school districts and independent schools, which will find out by the end of February how much they will receive, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced on Sunday.

“The $29.4 million will flow in the coming weeks and I expect all school districts to begin talking to parents and teachers,” Bernier said. “They should have two goals in mind: how to ease back-to-school supply costs for parents and how to bring B.C.’s new curriculum to life in the classroom.”

As students prepared to return to school last fall, Bernier announced a $20 million “school enhancement” fund that covered upgrades such as flooring, plumbing, heating, roof replacement, windows, lighting and electrical upgrades.

That fund was announced for projects that were not covered by the $45 million “fix it fund” that took applications in May. The “enhancement fund” required projects to be complete by the end of March 2017.

Since last June, Bernier and Premier Christy Clark also announced a transportation fund to keep districts from charging for bus service, a fund to keep designated rural schools open and the return of $25 million in “administrative savings” that the education ministry required for the last two years.

These one-time-funds are in addition to the province’s annual ministry budget, which includes $1.7 billion over three years for new schools and major projects such as seismic upgrades.