RCCDSB receives $13 million in provincial funding
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
RENFREW – St. Joseph’s High School (SJHS) will be expanded and St. Thomas the Apostle (STA) Catholic Elementary School will be replaced with a modern learning space, thanks to $13 million in provincial funding.
The funding is part of the province’s 2018 capital investment of $784 million to create better learning environments and additional licensed child care spaces. Seventy-nine projects have been approved, including 39 brand new schools and 40 major renovations across Ontario.
The Ministry of Education’s goal is to help build new schools in areas of high growth, improve the condition of existing schools and invest in projects to reduce surplus space through school consolidations.
“Ontario is committed to building learning environments that support student achievement and well-being. That’s why we continue to invest in new, renovated, and expanded schools so that every student can learn and grow in a space that enables them to reach their full potential,” stated the Ministry of Education in a press release.
According to Jaimie Perry, Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) director of education, the board decided to put the funding towards infrastructural improvements at SJHS and STA as both are much older buildings and it made sense to tackle the neighbouring Renfrew schools at the same time.
Perry noted that both of the schools have been in need of extensive renewal work for several years and the funding will provide staff and students with more modern and spacious learning environments.
“I would say it's been about three or four years that we've been looking at the need to add some space and improve infrastructure at those schools,” said Perry. “So our Board is very excited to receive Ministry funding to add that much-needed space to St. Joseph’s High School and enhance the learning environment at St. Thomas the Apostle.”
For SJHS, the board plans to expand the building in order to alleviate overcrowding that has necessitated the use of seven portable classrooms and conversion of the library into extra cafeteria space.
“We're up to seven portables at St. Joseph's High School, so hopefully years down the road all of those students will be inside the newly expanded building,” said Perry.
The plan allows for additional classroom spaces, and retrofitting the learning commons area and cafeteria. The Ministry has also given the Board approval to allocate some of its surplus funds to the construction of a double gymnasium.
“Our student, staff and parent community has been understanding of the issues that have come with our growth and have also advocated for some longer term solutions. We are so pleased that the Board and Ministry have been able to provide this assistance,” said St. Joseph’s High School Principal Brennan Trainor in a press release.
Regarding STA, the funds will go towards the replacement of the existing building with a contemporary 21st century learning space.
“This is a very exciting day for our school community,” remarked Principal Rory Donohue in a press release. “We look forward to working with the Board and the Ministry on this fantastic new project.”
The Board will also continue its partnership with Arnprior and District Childcare Services and the new St. Thomas the Apostle site will incorporate space for its existing daycare.
Once they complete the tendering and bidding process over the next few weeks, the RCCDSB will publicly announce the total amount of funding that they’ve received along with a tentative timeline for the two projects.
“We're just about to start our preliminary meetings and we hope to begin our planning very shortly and meet with the two school communicates to establish a timeline and get the ball rolling,” said Perry.