• Rob Hornberger

Kingsville councillors express frustration over school construction delays

Board of education reviewing bids for the $48-million project
A rendering of the planned K-12 school on Jasperson Lane is shown in an image from an Essex County District School Board video production.

KINGSVILLE — The opening date for the new K-12 school in Kingsville Is becoming more uncertain and it appears unlikely the new school will open by the fall of 2023 as originally hoped.

The board has not named a contractor to build the $48-million school and work is still being done with the board’s architect on the final design.

Todd Awender, superintendent with the Great Essex County District School Board, said early last year it would be a take about two years to build the Jasperson Lane school once a contractor broke ground.

The previously stated opening date for the school, which will be attended by an estimated 1,800 elementary and secondary students, was September 2023.

“There has not been a date of completion set for this project,” said board spokesman Scott Scantlebury.

He said the board is in the midst of reviewing the tender submissions.

On Monday, Kingsville council passed a motion asking that a formal letter be sent to the board requesting an update on why there has been a delay in construction and when the school will open.

“I’m not surprised,” said Deputy Mayor Gord Queen when told of the delay in naming a contractor.

“We have not gotten the information from the school board about what’s exactly going on,” he said in an interview.

Later at the council meeting, Queen was more direct, saying there had been “a breakdown in communication.”

Council was told by the town’s director of infrastructure and engineering, G.A. Plancke, that Kingsville has met its obligations under the purchase and sale agreement between the town and school board.

Plancke said a water main had been extended to the school property, a storm sewer outlet and sanitary sewers have been provided and the S-curve along Jasperson has been removed.

“These are the extent of the civil works that were done to accommodate the school,“ he said.

Richard Wyma, the town’s director of community and development services, said the town is still working with the board’s architect on the final design.

He said no building permit has been issued.

When the new school will open is important to the town because it wants to buy the high school on Main Street so it can use the property to build badly needed affordable housing.

When the new school opens, the school board will also be in a position to sell Kingsville Public and Jake Miner schools.

Coun. Laura Lucier said the purchase of the school is an opportunity the town cannot pass up.

“I’ve had almost weekly communication with either the mayor or administration, other members of council, other levels of government about (affordable housing),” she said prior to the council meeting.

She said she also had conversations about the issue with local MP Chris Lewis.

“Certainly the school presents some possibility of options which we don’t have now,” Lucier said.

She said if the sale of the old high school property is delayed it will give the town more time to amass the funds needed to buy it.

Leamington paid $1,343,200 for the old Leamington District High School site on Talbot Street in early 2021. The high school property is 10 acres.

The town also paid $354,500 for the six-acre Mill Street Public School site.

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