With construction nearing completion, the Prince Rupert School District and the District of Port Edward formally signed the lease agreement for the new school in the community on Oct. 23.
The agreement calls for the school district to lease the new three classroom school, which was paid for and built by the District of Port Edward along with $500,000 from the provincial government, to house elementary-age students in Port Edward beginning in the new year. With the move, the aging and massive Port Edward School building will be shut down.
The school comes after years of discussion between the District council and the school board to keep a school in Port Edward, and both board chair Tina Last and Mayor Dave MacDonald applauded the work that was done.
“It was identified that Port Edward school was not sustainable, so the school board had to do this, we had to close it. But this wasn’t a dig in your heels and fight response from council, they said ‘we understand, but we need a school in Port Edward’. The board’s reaction was that we understand and it is not often you see this type of relationship where you both recognize a problem and work together to solve it,” said Last, acknowledging the hard work council did in pitching the idea to the province.
“Thank you can’t be enough for the school board and the way this came to be. There wasn’t going to be a school in town, but in the end it all came together…I can hardly wait for the day we have kids in the school and the grand opening,” added Mayor MacDonald.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Ron Bedard, the school came in on schedule and may end up costing taxpayers less than first thought. The referendum that was passed allowed council to borrow up to $2 million, but with the grant from the province that amount may drop down to $1.8 million.
Along with the school itself, there was major renovations and a new floor put into the community centre and sprinklers installed in the district office as part of the work.