Hanwell is finally getting a new elementary school.
The community has been lobbying for a new school for years, and now Education Minister Dominic Cardy is saying there is money set aside to make it happen.
Hanwell is in Minister Cardy’s riding, and the announcement comes at a time when other New Brunswick communities have had to put their school projects put on hold.
“Hanwell needs a school, Hanwell is getting a school, and that’s a good thing. Everyone should be happy about that,” said Cardy.
This will be the first school built in rural Hanwell, with a capacity for 650 students in kindergarten through Grade 8.
“We really have been fighting for a long time to have this school so that all the kids here can learn about their own community and celebrate life in their community,” said Hanwell Mayor Susan Cassidy.
The school will have 36 classrooms, two gyms, technology labs, an early childhoos room and a performing arts room. A location has been selected, the school will be located right next to the newly built Hanwell community centre, giving students access to the centre and the park.
“We have a maximum of $3 million budgeted at this point,” said Cardy.
The mayor of Hanwell isn’t confident that will be enough to construct a school.
“I don’t want to put a number out there as I said I haven’t seen the financial forecast but I would expect that its larger than that,” said Cassidy.
“We own the land, so that’s a huge expense taken off the table right there,” said Cardy.
Budgets aren’t the only point of contention. Last year the government had to defend the decision to approve the Hanwell School, which postponed school projects in Moncton and Campbellton.
“It had nothing to do with politics. Anyone who would like to see the documentation and the history around that is welcome to come down to my office and I’m happy to share all the documents with them, because there is no reason for this stuff to be secretive and there is no reason to create controversies around politics when none exist,” said Cardy.
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The Liberals say the City of Campbellton has invested in infrastructure on existing school projects.
“I think that Minister Cardy needs to get his priorities straight. I find it strange that it managed to jump to the top of the list. There’s students in Campbellton that are waiting for new schools that needs the design phase, we’ve got students in Edmundston who can’t get to the second floor because they don’t have a functioning elevator, so there are other issues that should take precedence,” said education critic Chuck Chiasson.
The new school is slated to open January 2022, with construction starting in the fall 2020.