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Province confirms that $4M project to renovate St. Margaret School can proceed

'“It’s a pretty exciting project for us. We’re excited to breathe some fresh air into St. Margaret School ... it’s going to be a gem in the city.'
st. margaret summer2
St. Margaret School. File photo

The Ministry of Education has confirmed that Moose Jaw’s Catholic school division can proceed with its $4-million project to renovate and “right-size” École St. Margaret School under a new funding program.

The province sent a letter to Holy Trinity Catholic School Division over the summer saying the ministry had finalized the project cost at St. Margaret, which the provincial cabinet approved and announced on Budget Day in March

“It’s a pretty exciting project for us. We’re excited to breathe some fresh air into St. Margaret School,” education director Ward Strueby told the Express. “It’s needed to get some work done, and it’s going to be a gem in the city. So we’re really excited about it.”

The single-track French immersion school serves 187 students from kindergarten to Grade 8 and was constructed in 1956. About 60 per cent of the school is being used and needs major structural repairs, particularly to its portables and the building exterior. 

The ministry has approved a maximum contribution of up to $4 million toward the project. The money comes from a newly created minor capital renewal program to support school divisions with small projects. 

Under a section in The Education Act, Holy Trinity is eligible for $1.5 million upon receipt of a signed confirmation of contract award, the letter says. The ministry will provide the remaining balance of up to $2.5 million upon completion of the project and receipt of a signed certificate of project completion. 

Holy Trinity trustees reviewed the letter during their August board meeting.

“We are in the midst of developing plans and drawings associated with what the renovated St. Margaret School is going to look like,” Curt Van Parys, chief financial officer, told the Express. “The facilities folks … have consulted with our instructional superintendents and also with the school-based staff … with respect to, in essence, what this new school will look like.”

Division administration is excited about this project since Holy Trinity is one of only two school divisions to be part of the minor capital renewal program, he continued. The division office expects to issue project tenders either later this year or early 2023 and then start the project thereafter.

One component of the project is to “right-size” the building because about 40 per cent of the school is not being fully used due to low student enrolment, Van Parys said. The division has been working with the ministry to reduce the amount of floor space equivalent to three portable classrooms.

“Initially, I admit I was a little concerned about that, but … when we’re losing that square footage in the school, then we think we can definitely do this project for $4 million,” he added. 

The next Holy Trinity board meeting is Monday, Sept. 19.

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