Community consultation needed for amalgamation of 3 Saskatoon schools: residents

Optimist Park is a proposed site for an amalgamated school. Slavo Kutash / Global News

The Saskatoon Public School Board is proposing a city-centre school should be built in Optimist Park.

The original plan was to combine Pleasant Hill, King George and Princess Alexandra community schools in a new building on the Princess Alexandra site.

Read more: Parents raise concerns about planned amalgamation of 3 Saskatoon schools

This concerned some parents, including Nicole Dyck, who has a daughter at King George.

She had reservations about the location, as it wasn’t central between all of the schools and could be a long commute for many students. However, she said she can see there’s a need for change within the schools.

“I know at the moment they don’t have air conditioning and there aren’t ramps or elevators in some of the schools, so I understand the need to maybe look at a new school,” Dyck said.

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According to the school board, the anticipated cost to create an amalgamated school would be about $29 million. Renovating each school individually could be over three times as costly.

Dyck feels a lot better about the proposed Optimist Park location.

“It’s more central to all three of our communities so I definitely feel better about that being a consideration. From a parent’s perspective I do feel it’s a fair solution to the issues I was bringing up or being concerned with,” Dyck said.

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She adds community consultation will be very important moving forward. Nearby resident Karen Farmer agrees community members need to have a say in the decision.

“If they do consult with neighbours, the parents of the schools and the communities impacted by their decisions, we will have something that will be much more successful together,” Farmer said.

Farmer has reservations about the proposed Optimist Park location.

“It’s an oasis in an industrial area and we already have a shortage of park space in our core neighbourhoods,” Farmer said.

Dyck also believes it’s an important area for nearby residents, but thinks there are ways to make it work.

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“We do notice that it’s also vacant a lot of the time, so my hope would be with consideration of that location, that they would also look into keeping as much park space as possible,” Dyck said.

Read more: Province allocates $37.5 million to Saskatchewan schools in 2nd round of funding

At a city committee meeting Tuesday, it was recommended park space is looked into, to see if a school would take too much away from the existing park. It was also suggested residents and stakeholders impacted by the potential development at Optimist Park are consulted with.

The school board added the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the City of Saskatoon are potential partners for this project which could result in community growth.

If things go as planned, the anticipated school opening would be September 2024 or 2025.

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