The new location for Moose Jaw’s joint-use school has been approved by the Boards of Education at Prairie South and Holy Trinity School Divisions, announced in a press release on Sept. 24.
The school will be built in the Westheath area, on the west end of South Hill, and will replace four elementary schools in the city, all of which are currently located on South Hill.
The recommendation of the South Hill location came from the South Hill Steering Committee, after several months of collecting input from community members and considering infrastructure impacts.
The new school facility will be constructed to house approximately 1,000 students, amalgamating students from the public and Catholic school divisions together under one roof.
The project is being funded by the provincial government, and while an exact figure on how much the project will cost is unclear until designs are made, Baldwin estimated a building of this size could cost something in the tens of millions of dollars.
The expected date of completion has also yet to be determined, although Prairie South director Tony Baldwin hopes to potentially see construction begin as early as next year.
“If the funding is there and available, we want to get going with the actual construction of the building, but it all has to happen in a pretty specific timeline,” said Baldwin. “[There’s a lot] of work that needs to be done before we actually get shovels in the ground.”
The next step is to discuss land acquisition from the City of Moose Jaw, who own the property at the end of Wellington Dr. and Spadina Dr. where the school will be built, followed by beginning the design process with a project manager.
No decisions have been made regarding the future of the four school buildings that will be empty following the opening of the new school, although it is possible they could become part of the property deal between the city and the school divisions.
Both school divisions have been working closely together to bring this project to fruition, likely the beginning of a long partnership.
While the joint-use school project takes shape, the two school divisions have also begun a joint bussing program in preparation for the future.
The program has Prairie South School Division providing bussing for all four elementary schools in South Hill, which Baldwin sees making the transition to the new facility smoother in the future.
“It's something we were working on independent of the joint school,” said Baldwin. “It's going to work out really well when the new school opens because it's a piece of that puzzle that will already be completely harmonized between the two divisions.”
The decision on the location is an exciting step forward for Moose Jaw, said Baldwin.
“It's a very significant investment in the city of Moose Jaw, and so that's exciting because it's kids and families and the community on South Hill that are really the beneficiaries of this,” said Baldwin.