London-area school boards submit their wish lists

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New schools in north and southeast London, improvements to east-end elementary schools and a new build in Belmont top the wish lists of London-area school boards.

Both the Thames Valley and London District Catholic boards have assembled their lists, hoping to get funding from the Ministry of Education.

Ontario’s 76 school boards have to submit a list of their biggest capital investment priorities and business cases for each by Sept. 8.

Of the 10 big builds the Thames Valley board is eyeing, funding for a new school and child-care centre in southeast London, additions to Masonville and Tweedsmuir elementary schools and money to buy land for a planned Belmont school top the list.

“The ministry will look at all the projects and they’ll decide what to fund,” board chair Matt Reid said. “It’s impossible to say what they’ll actually fund.”

The new Belmont school is needed after trustees voted in May to shutter Springfield, New Sarum, Sparta, South Dorchester and Westminster elementary schools.

The closings paved the way for two new schools; one in Belmont and another in southeast St. Thomas, ambitious projects with a combined $27.5-million price tag.

Now, the board is asking for the money to make it happen.

“They all go to the ministry and the ministry will then lay out business cases across the province and they will fund whatever they decide. We usually hear by November, roughly,” said Reid.

The London District Catholic board’s biggest need, said chair John Jevnikar, is funding to renovate three east London elementary schools — St. Bernadette, St. Pius X and Blessed Sacrament — also spurred by school closings.

“At the end of last year, we moved to close two east London schools and move those pupils to the surrounding schools,” he said.

The Catholic board has to move quickly. Holy Cross and St. Robert will close at the end of the 2017-18 school year, its pupils split between other east-end schools.

“We want to make sure those students are accommodated properly,” he said.

Though the asks are ranked by each board, the order is “not taken into consideration by the province,” said Thames Valley trustee Jake Skinner. “They look at each business case . . . based on its individual merit.”

Of the 10 projects on Thames Valley’s list, Skinner said the ministry will make its funding decisions based not on the rankings, but on which projects make the most business sense.

Area boards’ Top 5 priorities

Thames Valley District

  • New southeast London elementary school
  • Addition to Masonville elementary school
  • Buying land for brand new Belmont elementary school
  • Building new Belmont elementary school
  • Addition to Tweedsmuir elementary school

London District Catholic

  • New north London elementary school
  • Addition to St. Anne’s elementary School in St. Thomas
  • Addition and renovations to St. Bernadette in east London
  • Renovation to St. Pius X in east London
  • Facility upgrades to Blessed Sacrament in east London 

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