Delayed like so many other projects by the coronavirus pandemic, work on a new St. Boniface Catholic School in Breslau is back on track for an opening in time for the 2021 school year.
“We’re about 40 per cent complete and we are going to hit our scheduled target opening in September,” said Adrian Frigula, construction supervisor for the new school now coming together on a lot where Starlight Avenue and Trowbridge Street come together.
“The school is being built for roughly 260 students, and on top of that there is also an 88-space childcare and an earlyON centre for children,” he added, noting the school and property are much larger the current location, where last year’s enrollment was 147 students.
The Waterloo District Catholic School Board was allocated $11.4 million from the province last year to allow the project to proceed. It sits on a five-acre site located in the Riverland area of the village.
Initially slated to open in time for March break next spring, the school project was pushed back following the COVID-19 outbreak. That deadline simply became unworkable, said Terri Pickett, senior manager of facility services for WDCSB.
“We were fearful of delivery of some product, so it wasn’t that anything was really delayed, but it was sort of the ‘just in case’ that was happening around us,” he said of the decision to push back the target date as a safety precaution.
Pickett notes that parents, students and the Maryhill community were at first reluctant to accept the project when it was first announced a few years back, but now there’s more acceptance.
“When we were originally going through [the process], there was some people who may not have been quite as happy. But I think now that we’re progressing along, I believe the school community is excited about the new facilities,” he said.
Frigula added that there are always people who have concerns anytime there is a relocation.
The board intends to shut down the current school in Maryhill, transferring all of the students to Breslau. Officials see the new building as a chance to provide a Catholic school to the larger and fast-growing village.
While handier for students in Breslau, the new St. Boniface will be 10 kilometres away from the current site, meaning a shift to busing for some children used to walking to school, for instance.
“We do bus some kids in from Breslau out to Maryhill. So now it’s the ones that are more in the Maryhill location that will be busing over to Breslau,” said Pickett. “The ones that were bused in from surrounding areas will be bused in, but I believe there will be more walkers now than there were at the original school.”
Updates on the site’s status are frequent and being done through the WDCSB’s social media accounts, as well as through communication by the school’s principal.
“We’ve been messaging out pretty regularly about what’s happening. We’ve got the principal, Marilyn Dawson, on board and she is making sure that communication goes out to the to the school community.”
The current yellow brick building constructed in 1898, the third iteration since a school was first built in the village in 1834, was augmented with additions in 1965 and 1968.