Ahead of the planned September 2023 opening of the new elementary school under construction in New Sudbury, the Rainbow District School Board voted Feb. 21 to declare a couple of elementary schools slated for closure as “surplus.”
When schools are declared surplus and subsequently sold, the revenue generated by the sale goes into a reserve, which can be used to offset the costs of new construction.
Trustees voted to declare both Carl A. Nesbitt Public School and Ernie Checkeris Public School — both of them located in New Sudbury — surplus as of the end of the current school year on June 30.
Students at both Carl A. Nesbitt and Ernie Checkeris schools are to attend the new elementary school, as are students from Westmount Avenue Public School. Westmount, however, has not been declared surplus by the board.
The new Junior Kindergarten (JK) to Grade 6 school is being built on the same site as Lasalle Secondary School, and is being referred to by board staff as Lasalle Elementary School, although that name has not been formally adopted by trustees.
Construction delays mean the school is scheduled to open a year later than originally planned.
The original funding approved by the Ministry of Education in August 2017 was $12.6 million. However, as of early last fall, the board said the cost had escalated to approximately $17.1 million.
The Rainbow board said the economic environment has changed significantly over the past five years, and the board applied for more funding from the ministry as the project progressed due to increased costs for materials, unique site work and COVID-19.
The Ministry of Education has since increased its funding contribution to $14.1 million, and the board has put in a request for another $908,475 to help defray increased project costs due to COVID-19 (the Rainbow board confirmed this week this latest request has not yet been approved).
These costs include increases for materials, PPE, additional supervision and social distancing.
Construction on the school also ran into a snag due to soil instability issues in the fall of 2021, which is responsible for the construction delay, as well as tacking another $2.1 million onto the project’s costs.
The board is dipping into its own proceeds of the disposition fund — which comes from selling surplus properties such as schools that have been closed — to cover these costs.
Before trustees approved putting Carl A. Nesbitt and Ernie Checkeris on the “surplus” list, trustee Judy Hunda asked board staff “are we actually certain that the school will be finished on the Lasalle property for the start-up of September?”
“Nothing is certain in this life, but we are very optimistic that we will be in the school for the fall, yes,” said Adam Guilbault, the Rainbow board’s superintendent of business.
He added that the process of declaring the schools surplus will begin with “appraisals that we’re trying to schedule before the end of the month, and then moving towards that process.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.