Capacity for new New Westminster school not as big as announced
The proposed capacity for the new elementary school to be built on the old St. Mary’s Hospital site is 100 less than what the Ministry of Education announced it would be last week.
A press release sent out last Tuesday said the school would be able to hold 100 kindergarten students and 18 regular classrooms for 550 students.
But in a clarification released this week, the district said the school, budgeted to cost $13.5 million, will hold a total of 550 students, including 100 in kindergarten.
Project manager Jim Alkins said before full-time kindergarten was introduced similar ministry announcements included the breakdown because kindergarten was only half a day, a practice that may have caused the confusion about the announcement.
Once the St. Mary’s school is built, work will begin on a west side middle school, expected to cost $17.6 million and hold 500 students, on the John Robson elementary site.
It currently has a student population of nearly 400, with many of them housed in portables.
Alkins said to accommodate the new building, the middle school will be able to make use of adjacent city-owned land for play fields.
Alkins said St. Mary’s will have same catchment area as John Robson, but some might find it more convenient to go to a new school, while others might be attracted to St. Mary’s.
The ministry said construction on St. Mary’s should begin in the fall and it is expected to be open in early 2014, while the middle school should be up and running by the fall of 2015.
“It’s a tight timeline, there’s no doubt about it. There are a number of variables that come into play. Every step has requirements that could take time. Any difficulty in the process of selecting, or bad weather, or problems on site, and it might take it a bit longer,” admitted Alkins.
“What we’ve shown is the best-case scenario. We’re anxous to move it forward, and the community is anxious to move it forward, so we’ll put the pressure on to meet that timeline.”