By Jessica Lovell
It’s been a challenge, but the local public school board expects to have all of its new schools ready to welcome students on Sept. 2.
“There may be still some work going on in the schools,” but they’ll be open, said Maggie McFadzen, communications officer with the Upper Grand District School Board.
The board has four brand new schools – two in Guelph, one in Rockwood and one in Orangeville – set to open this September. But right up until this week, the board was not sure they would all be open on time.
One of the local schools, the new William C. Winegard Public School on Lee Street in the city’s east end, had a message posted on its website on Aug. 22 telling parents there was no guarantee the school would be open on time.
“Despite efforts to have the school ready, it is possible for certain situations to arise last minute which would not allow us to get in,” said the message from principal Curt McQueen, which was also relayed to parents via automated phone call.
“If we cannot safely have the building ready for September 2nd, we will need to start the year at King George Public School,” it said.
As of Wednesday, the board still did not have occupancy of the building, but it was anticipating having access soon.
“We’re hoping we will have occupancy on the weekend, but they will not have access to the library, gym or a few classrooms,” said McFadzen.
While the construction will be continuing after the school year starts, the board will have the use of enough of the building to open on time, she said.
“We have enough space to house all the kids, so they’ll be there,” she said.
The other new school in Guelph is Arbour Vista Public School on Zaduk Place in the city’s south end. “That will be open on time,” said McFadzen.
Harris Mill Public School in Rockwood will also be open on time, but like William C. Winegard school it will be under construction with no library or gym access to begin with, she said.
These schools are not the only ones where students will have construction work happening in their midst.
“The weather was a problem this year,” said McFadzen, noting the construction season got a late start because of the long winter. “Plus, we’ve done all kinds of projects for the full-day kindergarten as well.”
This fall marks the final phase in of full-day kindergarten, with all schools in the board now offering the program. This meant new classrooms and classroom renovations at a number of existing schools.
The Wellington Catholic District School Board has no new schools opening this fall, but plans to open one in Rockwood in 2015.
By Jessica Lovell