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Provincial cash to fund new schools

A new Catholic school for the Breslau/Maryhill area and improvements to Breslau Public School will be funded by part of the $30 million on its way to Waterloo Region’s school boards, the province announced this week.

Part of the $18.7 million to be received by the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) will be spent on a major addition to Breslau Public School, while a portion of the $11.5 planned for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) will go towards building a new school in the Maryhill and Breslau area.

Other uses for WRDSB funds will include a new school in south Kitchener and extensions to the city’s Mackenzie King Public School. In addition to a new Catholic school in Woolwich, Waterloo Catholic will build additions for St. Aloysius and Blessed John Paul II schools.

The projects were strategically chosen in order to accommodate the institutions as well as students in the future, representatives from both boards say.

WRDSB manager of planning Dennis Cuomo said this week the current plans at Breslau PS came out of a previous Breslau/Stanley Park elementary schools accommodation review. It determined that some Kitchener students would be transferred from Breslau PS to Mackenzie King PS in the future with the recommendation that both schools be expanded. Breslau PS is also slated for the addition of a full-day kindergarten program, which will require more space.

“There was a need there anyway. We combined that in a request to the Ministry [of Education] for another addition that would help accommodate the number of students,” Cuomo said.

So far the additions will consist of new classrooms, said WRDSB manager of capital Ron Dallan, adding, however, that during such construction projects the board will often take the opportunity to replace or fix certain equipment. In that case the extra cash will be taken out of the board’s school renewal funds.

“It’s a good economical way of getting things done while you are at the school doing a major construction job.”

The additions in Breslau and Kitchener are set to open to students in 2014, while the new Kitchener school is scheduled to open in 2015.

The Catholic board’s planning department says the new location in Woolwich will replace St. Bonifice in Maryhill.

“In this case the facility condition at St. Bonifice was below what our normal standards are. In essence we look at the replacement cost of the school versus the cost of the repairs required,” said superintendant of corporate services Shesh Maharaj.

The location of the new facility will be decided upon at a later date, following a consultation period with local families, but will still be within the current school’s boundary, which includes the Maryhill and Breslau areas.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said investments in local schools are always welcome, especially in burgeoning areas like Breslau. He views this move by the province as an “attempt to change the channel,” in the midst of continuing labour disputes with the teachers’ unions.

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