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Province’s $4M pledge to fix St. Margaret School inadequate, Holy Trinity says

Holy Trinity Catholic School Division's original financial request to the province for this initiative was $5.2 million, based on 2021 construction costs.
Construction Moose Jaw

It will cost Holy Trinity Catholic School Division more than $5 million to upgrade École St. Margaret School, but the Ministry of Education has only committed $4 million to the project.

The school division’s original financial request to the province for this initiative was $5.2 million based on 2021 construction costs, a board report explained. However, this project — similar to other capital projects like the joint-use school initiative — is facing budget challenges because of the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine’s effects on material availability, costs and labour shortages. 

In recognition of those challenges, division administration modified the project to avoid the pitfalls similar initiatives have faced, the report continued. However, even with modifications, the project’s revised estimate is now $5.48 million, which is within five per cent of the original request. 

That $4 million allocation “will likely not cut it” because of what’s required to upgrade École St. Margaret, said CFO Curt Van Parys during the recent Holy Trinity board meeting. The division office has asked the ministry to re-think its original funding contribution, considering it provided a 25-per-cent funding increase — an extra $9 million — to the joint-use school project because of inflation. 

“To date, we have not been successful in procuring the additional funds,” he stated. 

Both parties have discussed ways to fund the shortfall, including having Holy Trinity tap into its preventative maintenance and renewal (PMR) budget or looking at other resources, Van Parys added. However, division administration will continue emphasizing how the challenges this project faces are no different from other initiatives. 

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 money that the ministry is providing comes from a newly created minor capital renewal program to support school divisions with small projects. 

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. The division has been working with the ministry to reduce the amount of floor space equivalent to three portable classrooms.

The next Holy Trinity board meeting is Monday, Feb. 13. 

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