• Rob Hornberger

Province approves additional funding for new K-12 school in Kingsville

Construction could begin next week, board says
The province has set aside $59 million for the Jasperson Drive school, shown in an architectural image provided by the Greater Essex County District School Board.

KINGSVILLE — The Ministry of Education has increased funding for the new Kingsville K-12 school and construction could begin as early as next week.

When plans for the new school were announced in 2016 the estimated cost was $44 million. In a news release issued Tuesday, the province announced it had upped the funding to $59 million.

“Certainly costs have risen for everything, from structural steel to the cost of labour and the ministry has recognized that and provided us with more funds to build the school properly,” said Scott Scantlebury, spokesman for the Greater Essex County District School Board.

He said that without the increased funding the board was looking at cuts to the original plan.

The school will be about 200,000 square feet and will house close to 1,800 elementary and secondary students.

Fortis Construction has been awarded the contract.

Kingsville school trustee Julia Burgess said the board had known “a while ago” that increases in funding were coming but had to keep silent until the province was ready to make Tuesday’s announcement.

“We had to sit on it which was very annoying when people are getting upset (in Kingsville),” she said.

Kingsville council, at the urging of Deputy Mayor Gord Queen, had made requests to the board on the status of the school and when construction would start. The most recent request was last week. No additional information was made available -- until Tuesday.

“It’s definitely positive for the community that it’s actually going ahead,” Queen said.

“We did not want to compromise the design by cutting things.”

He said the town’s request for more information was based on the knowledge that other school projects, approved by the board at the same time as the Kingsville school, have been completed.

“(The ministry announcement) brings a sense of calm to the community … when you have a provincial election coming up. Who knows what will happen after the election,” Queen said.

Burgess said the board was in constant communication with the ministry over the need for more funding. She said the board did not want to pare back plans for the school because of inadequate funding.

“We did not want to compromise the design by cutting things,” Burgess said.

“There is only one way to deliver an item. We did not want to put out a tender with a compromised design.”

Scantlebury said the tentative opening date for the school is September 2024. Construction equipment could be on the Jasperson Drive site next week.

Definite time frames for construction and completion of the new school are important for the Town of Kingsville since it wants to purchase the site of the existing high school — and possibly Kingsville Public School — to build affordable housing.

“As a town councillor I’m anxious that we’re able to purchase the high school and Kingsville Public and implement some innovative and exciting ideas for affordable housing,” said Coun. Laura Lucier.

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