After months of uncertainty and frustration, funding for a badly needed overhaul of a north-end elementary school has been secured.
Masonville Public School was built in 1952 and was only meant to accommodate 363 students. Officials with the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) say more than 600 students currently attend classes at the school on Hillview Boulevard.
It takes 14 portables to accommodate the population.
During Tuesday evening’s meeting of the board, trustees discussed the $8.3 million in funding which has been approved for renovations that will transform the school.
Officials say $2.4 million will be sourced from the TVDSB’s accumulated surplus while $5.9 million will be provided from the Ontario government.
The provincial funds, which the TVDSB found out about earlier this month, have been expected for some time but were put on hold after the Progressive Conservative government was elected last June.
School officials handled the cramped quarters as best they could, but the situation escalated in January when frigid temperatures hit the region at the same time electricity in nine of Masonville Public School’s portables went offline.
As a result, staff shipped about 200 students inside to the already jam-packed main building to continue the day’s classes.
The renovations will allow for a new addition on the property that will feature nine new classrooms, a double gymnasium, additional washrooms, space for kindergarten classes as well as mechanical space.
Work will also be done to the original school building to create two new classrooms as well as to turn the current gym into a library learning commons and staff room. The current library space will be turned into a general arts classroom.
“This will definitely improve the functioning of the school, the delivery of programming and I think the satisfaction of everyone,” TVDSB Trustee Jake Skinner told 980 CFPL. “It will be to the standard to a brand new school.”
“We’ve got the funding in place and that’s probably the biggest hurdle.”
The next steps will be final design approvals, tendering contracts for the project and receiving the final provincial sign-offs on those contracts.
“I just think it’s going to open up the opportunities, it’s going to make it a much more comfortable workplace and a much more comfortable learning environment for students,” Skinner said.
An exact timeline for when the work will begin hasn’t been hammered down yet, but the TVDSB hopes to have shovels in the ground sometime this year.
— With files from Liny Lamberink