BRHS, BRES to be replaced with Primary to Grade 12 facility
© Lawrence Powell
Bridgetown Regional High School will be replaced with a new Primary to Grade 12 school, the Department of Education announced last Monday. Details are sketchy, but school board officials said they will know more later in January. Site selection and design could begin in April.
By Lawrence Powell
Bridgetown will be getting a new Primary to Grade 12 school – but that’s about all anyone outside the Department of Education knows. It was part of an announcement by the department Monday that puts $94.6 million into the province’s education capital plans for 2014-15.
Annapolis Valley Regional School Board superintendent Margo Tait said Friday that details about the new Bridgetown school will likely come out in January, but at this point all the board knows is that a new school was announced.
Despite the lack of details, she expects that site selection and design will begin in April.
“We’re really pleased this announcement was made,” said Tait, who added that the community let the board know that it favoured a new school over the original plans to renovate Bridgetown Regional High School to accommodate elementary students.
“This is good news,” said Tait. “We think this is really good news.”
Michelle Lucas of the department said Friday Bridgetown will receive a new P-12 school estimated to cost $24 million. “But design and tendering will determine the final cost,” she said. “It will replace Bridgetown Regional Elementary and Bridgetown Regional High.”
Lucas said the next step is to begin the site selection process, which will take place in parallel with the design process.
“The school board will have to submit three potential sites to the department,” she said. “Once site selection and design are complete, tendering for construction will begin. The target opening date is 2017, with the opening depending on time needed for site selection, design, tendering and construction.”
Originally it was a renovation that was being considered, said finance manager Stu Jamieson. A committee under David Jones, made up of SACs and community members, looked at the needs of a P-12 school population and how the BRHS could be revamped to meet those needs. At the same time, consultants were working on costs to convert BRHS. Jamieson said a business case presented to the department last spring contained both options – renovations or a completely new school. He said the board was asking ‘if it costs this much to renovate, how much more would it cost for a new school?”
Jamieson also said he has not seen details and expects to know more later in January.
Bridgetown Regional Elementary School was subject to being closed when the BRHS renovations were complete. School closure plans across the province were put on hold and closure of BRES now also depends on construction timelines for the new P-12 school.
“Students will soon be attending more new, modern schools and have more educational choices,” the department said, noting the $94.6 million includes building 10 new schools, renovating and improving 18 others, purchasing 70 new buses, and reducing energy use in schools.
"Our students need modern education facilities to prepare them to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs, innovators, and skilled workers," Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey said Monday. "Under this plan, we are building and improving schools across the province and establishing four new skilled-trades centres to open that career path for students in those communities. "This is a significant commitment to the education of our young people."
The new skilled trade centres will be established at Avon View High School in Windsor, Dalbrae Academy in Mabou, Dr. J.H. Gillis High in Antigonish and Ecole Secondaire du Sommet in Halifax.
Casey announced five new schools will join the five under construction. The new schools will be in:
-- Bridgetown (Primary- Grade12)
-- Sheet Harbour (P-12)
-- South-end Halifax (elementary)
-- Tatamagouche (P-12)
-- Yarmouth (elementary)
Major new renovation projects include upgrading Park View Education Centre in Bridgewater and improving Wolfville School. Other projects include Dr. W.A. MacLeod in Riverton and Ecole acadienne de Truro.
The capital plan includes substantially increased funding for small capital projects, such as roof repairs and replacement windows, and second-year funding for an energy efficiency program that affects 90 Halifax Regional School Board schools.
Under the capital plan, the province will purchase and renovate a building in Sydney to serve as a bus maintenance facility for Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.