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St. Patrick’s to stay closed until 2020 school year

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St. Patrick School won’t reopen until August 2020. The Catholic K to 8 was shut down before the beginning of the school year due to a mould issue, and between remediation and modernization, work is expected to take 2.5 to three years.

Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools superintendent Karl Germann says the remediation is almost done, but that has left a lot of the school with a dirt floor.

“We can’t go back into the school because we tore all the floors out and what we could salvage, we salvaged and what we could take out, we took out. Now, basically, you’ve got an unusable gym and unusable classrooms.”

In the meantime, temporary heat will be installed in those rooms, and the temporary measures for students and staff will stay in place. All Pre-Kindergarten to grade 7 students will stay at Holy Cross Catholic School, with free bussing from St. Pat’s.

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“We’ve moved four modulars over from St. Pat’s to Holy Cross and those will open up here in a week,” says Germann. “It took us a little less than two months to actually get them moved over and reassembled, painted and cleaned up, so that’s going to really help with Holy Cross alleviating the congestion there.”

The 25 grade 8 students were moved to Mother Teresa Catholic School, also with free bussing, and all staff from St. Patrick followed their classes.

Before the decision was made to close the school out of health concerns, the province approved a modernization for the building. At Monday’s meeting, the school board hired BR2 Architecture out of Edmonton to design the rebuild. That process is expected to take a year, and then construction another 1.5 to two.

Germann says the price tag of $10 million will be covered by the government, along with roughly $400,000 for the demolition. The school district will pay around $500,000 for the mould removal from its infrastructure maintenance and repair fund. If the modernization wasn’t planned, it’s estimated they would have had to pay another million dollars to fix the school.

Despite being down a school for three years, Germann says he’s excited for the new facility, which will include a large gym, a foods lab, and other career and technology spaces. He believes the board made the right choice in closing its doors.

“There’s no way we could have remediated that school with everybody in it; it would have taken us more than a year, and then to try to block everything off would have been problematic, so this was a good decision of the board and we can make sure that kids and staff are safe.”

Germann adds that he’s heard those displaced are settling in well to their new schools. They will still be picked up and dropped of for bussing at St. Patrick, so the school zone will remain in effect.

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