I went to my first school board meeting this evening. It was, dare I say… educational.

P3 Architecture principal, James Youck, came out to present three reports about school redevelopments. One dealt with the amalgamation of Glen Elm and Haultain. The second dealt with the amalgamation of Imperial and McDermid. And the final report — and as you can probably guess from the title of my post, the one I found most alarming — dealt with the rebuild (or renovation) of Connaught School.*

Seems Connaught is in pretty bad shape. According to the engineers hired by P3A, the school’s brick foundation is in very poor shape. There’s extensive water damage throughout the basement. The electrical and plumbing need to be completely replaced. It’s currently safe for students to be in it, but that won’t be the case in five to ten year’s time.

In fact things are so bad, renovating the school will cost a whopping $23,194,580. Tearing it down and building a new school on the other hand will only cost $18,880,064. That’s a $4,314,516 difference.

A lot of bake sales are going to have to be organized to cover that kind of scratch.

By comparison, renovating any of Glen Elm, Haultain, Imperial or McDermid would cost slightly less than building new. But apparently, Connaught is either right at or just past a tipping point such that salvaging it will be extremely costly.

And that will come as bad news for Cathedral residents and Connaught parents considering that during community consultations, saving the building was ranked as one of their top priorities.

Anyway, as I understand it, tonight’s meeting wasn’t held to decide the fate of any of these schools. Rather, the board was just voting to pass on funding requests to the provincial government to cover the costs of rebuilding and/or renovating them.

In the case of Glen Elm and Haultain, the recommendation seems to be to seek funding to build a new school building on the site of Glen Elm School that will accommodate both populations.** Similarly, P3 recommends in the case of Imperial and McDermid that the school board seek funding for a new build on the site of Imperial School.

With Connaught, the recommendation is more complicated. While the report points out that the community’s preferred option is to renovate and improve the current building, the consultant seems to be suggesting that the board will be better off going after funding for a new building to be constructed on the site of the current school. Or, if an entirely new site can be found, that a new Connaught school building be constructed there.

Once these reports get passed up the food chain, it’ll basically be up to the education ministry to decide how much cash it’s willing to pony up for these jobs. And that’ll determine what gets bulldozed and what gets saved. So I guess for now all we can do is wait and see.

* And yes, I find this report alarming in part because my daughter goes to Connaught. And she loves it there and will cry if she finds out they’re thinking of tearing the building down. Plus, I’m on the board of the Cathedral Area Community Assocation, so I wasn’t just a concerned parent at tonight’s meeting, I was also watching what went down so I can report back to my community association. So I’m far from a neutral observer on this story. But, hey, what do you want? I’m the only p-dogger who made it out to this shindig.

** And BTW, as this was my first school board meeting and as this is just a hastily dashed off blog post, I readily admit I may have some of the details of what went down screwy. Like, for instance, apparently this all had a lot to do with something called SA-1 funding and I’ll be buggered if I know what that is exactly. Anyway, if this post winds up becoming something for the paper, I’ll do real interviews and such over the next couple days. In the meantime, I’m hoping I can rely on Barb’s eagle eyes to catch my errors of fact. And grammar!