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April 24, 2007

Institutional

Sault area ready for school work

SAULT STE. MARIE

A draft plan that calls for the consolidation of more than a dozen Catholic schools in the Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District has the local construction association jumping for joy.

The 10-year capital plan is to be submitted to the Ministry of Education.

It is projected to cost the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board $95 million.

“This would be an incredible boost to our city and our industries,” said Rick Thomas, president of the Sault Ste. Marie Construction Association. “It’s time to upgrade our aging schools and the association is very supportive of this move because it will mean good news for our local industries.”

The plans call for 13 neighbourhood schools in Sault Ste. Marie to be replaced with four brand new larger schools.

Another four schools throughout the district will be levelled and new facilities built.

"This would be an incredible boost to our city and our industries."

Rick Thomas

SSMCA

One high school in Sault Ste. Marie will be torn down and built from scratch and another will undergo two renovation phases.

The draft capital plan would reduce the total square feet of space in the HSCDSB to 81,000 square feet from 533,000 square feet.

The downsizing will mean schools would operate at capacity, with enrollment up to 700, and save the board $30 million in operating costs.

In addition, the board will have brand new schools with up-to-date facilities and efficiencies.

The plan is to roll out the first new school in Espanola, east of Sault Ste. Marie, in 2009 at a cost of $8 million.

Other schools in the Sault would be amalgamated and come under new roofs between 2010 and 2015.

In 2016, a new high school would be constructed at the cost of $18 million.

The other Catholic high school in the Sault would be reconstructed in two phases:the first in 2009 and the second in 2012. It’s currently undergoing an expansion that adds dance and music rooms to the one-floor building.

A similar reconstruction plan was unveiled earlier this year by the Algoma District School Board.

Its plans include 11 new schools in nine years at a cost of $147 million.

“Both school board plans will help that sector of the industry that has not been a good one locally recently,” Thomas said.

“These plans involve multiple buildings that engage multiple contractors in all sectors and a full range of services from the ground up to suppliers.”

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