By Renée Rodgers
All four public schools newly renovated by the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board are now open and accommodating students.
Prince Charles and Athol-South Marysburgh public schools were up and running by September 6. But Sir John A. Macdonald and York River public schools needed a few more finishing touches before students could be welcomed to the new facilities.
Those two schools were opened to students Sept. 27.
Dave Rutherford, superintendent of business services, told the board at a meeting Sept. 26 while the two schools weren’t ready for students on the first day of school, no child went without a place to learn.
“We did have temporary facilities available to us which we used – older schools that are intended for closure eventually – so we took advantage of that to ensure that every child could be at school the first day of school in September,” he said in an interview.
York River had the old Bancroft Public School facilities to house the students until their new school was ready to accept them. During the delay at Sir John A. Macdonald, students and staff were temporarily relocated to Sir Mackenzie Bowell.
The holdup in getting the two schools ready was mainly due to a delay in getting Ministry of Education approval for funding, causing construction to begin later than expected, Rutherford said.
Don Tregenza, controller of facility services, said he and other board members had “a few words” with construction workers to push them to get the job done on time.
“But they did come through in the end and I’d like to publicly thank them for doing that,” he said. “It was a tremendous effort.”
The renovation project was part of the board’s mandate to “consolidate and renew”, said Rob McGall, director of education, in an interview.
Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, and Prince Charles Belleville were combined into two renovated schools to replace the old three. Bancoft Public School will close and the senior elementary school has been renovated and renamed York River Public School, which is now a single school instead of two. In Prince Edward County, the board closed South Marysburgh Public School and renovated nearby Athol Central Public School to create Athol-South Marysburgh, one school to replace the two.
“So we have fewer schools on the board inventory, but they are better facilities and they house our students in really terrific learning environments as a result,” McGall said.
The four projects cost about $15-million to complete, Rutherford said.