As several countries bordering the Pacific Ocean were hit with massive earthquakes in recent weeks, Metro Vancouver schools were still struggling to complete the seismic upgrades promised by the province five years ago.

At Burnaby Central Secondary, the entire school is being replaced, at a price tag of $50 million.

The school is one of eight in the Burnaby school district undergoing major renovations.

"We currently have a list of about 26 more," Diana Mumford, chairwoman for the Burnaby School Board, told CTV News.

"You'd like to have it all done, but you also have to realize everything costs money, and we've got to balance it."

In 2005, the provincial government announced a $1.5-billion plan to upgrade more than 700 schools by the year 2020 or sooner.

Five years later, less than an eighth of the work is done. Only 80 retrofits are complete, while 39 are in the construction or planning stages.

Carlos Ventura, of the University of B.C.'s earthquake research facility, told CTV News that the province is on the right track, but making slow progress.

"Probably, if we don't accelerate our retrofit process, we probably will have some problems with some schools," he said.

"It's a great concern that the engineering community has, that those schools need to be addressed as soon as possible."

Robin Austin, the NDP's education critic, said the province needs to make seismic upgrades a bigger priority.

"If we can spend $500 million putting a new roof on BC Place, then we can afford to invest in our children's safety," he told CTV News.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson