Gravelbourg project greenlit by PSSD

Nathan Liewicki
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Board unanimously approves $8.5 million design

Ministry of Education approval is all that is needed for construction to begin on consolidating Gravelbourg’s elementary and high schools under one roof.

Darren Baiton, facilities manager for the Prairie South School Division, addresses the PSSD board about the Gravelbourg Addition/Renovation Design Development Report at Monday's meeting. The school board unanimously passed the report and construction is expected to begin in February 2015.

The Prairie South School Division (PSSD) unanimously approved the Gravelbourg Addition/ Renovation Design Development Report at Monday’s school board meeting two months after it originally planned to discuss the report.

Board chair Shawn Davidson expects to receive ministry approval fairly quickly, since they have already received a copy of the report.

“The ministry has been working with us every step of the way on this project.

“They actually had some significant concerns with the preliminary reports, which is why this motion was put back to this meeting,” he said. “We had to make some changes to the design.”

Pending the ministry’s final review and approval of the design and nearly $8.5 million budget, construction on the project will begin in February 2015. PSSD is optimistic that construction will be completed by February 2016.

Shawn Davison, who is also the trustee for Gravelbourg’s two schools, said the board “optimistically hoped” to have the consolidated school open for the start of the 2015-16 school year, but to have construction completed by February 2015 is “an aggressive timeframe.

“By Sept. 2016 we would fully hope to be occupying the new building and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t be the case,” he told the Times-Herald.

Through that aggressive timeframe, the PSSD board preliminarily hoped to begin construction by this coming October.

“We all knew going into it that that wasn’t likely the way it was going to go,” said Davidson.

“You always set optimistic projections and with any project of this scale, but they never come off with the absolute perfect timeframe that we all hoped for.”

Darren Baiton, the facilities manager for PSSD, presented the report to the board. He listed some of the pros for the project as: providing the staff and students with a new facility with flexible use and providing a safe healthy environment for learning.

The big con, however, is that construction will be ongoing during student learning.

Davidson hopes to keep the learning interference to a minimum, but noted, “To say there isn’t going to be any impact whatsoever I couldn’t say that.”

Although students’ learning might be affected during construction, it was the Gravelbourg staff that played a big role in designing the new school.

“The staff picked the design and we went through all of the public consultations and (former director of education) Jeff Finell was nice enough to give the staff a modeling day where they were able to model their school how they saw it fit within that space,” said Baiton.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Prairie South School Division, Times-Herald, PSSD board

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