French school board buys QPS building
Ottawa’s French Catholic school board has purchased the former Queenswood Public School for $3.6 million, a local trustee says.
According to Orléans-Cumberland OttawaCarleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustee John Shea, ownership of the building was handed over on July 15. The Queenswood Heights facility, he continued, was sold at fair market value and the money will be used in the OCDSB’s capital budget to repair facilities or even build future schools.
The building that housed the former Queenswood Public School (QPS) was declared surplus and put on the auction block after trustees decided to close the facility and move students to neighbouring Dunning-Foubert Elementary School.
Shea noted staff originally proposed retaining the closed school to temporarily house overflow from the new Avalon community, if needed, until a second school is built in that neighbourhood.
“It would’ve left the building vacant,” Shea said, explaining he wasn’t comfortable leaving the building a target for vandalism like the nearby former fire station on Tompkins Avenue.
He added he also had serious doubts parents in the Avalon community would register their children with the OCDSB if they were being bussed to Queenswood Heights.
Instead, the board entered into months-long negotiations with the French Catholic board, culminating into what Shea called a fair deal for both parties.
The French board plans to move students from La Source Catholic elementary school to the Queenswood Heights building in time for classes this fall. The school will be named École d’enseignement personnalisé La Source.
Since 2003,the students of La Source have been attending the former des Villageois school, which has outlived its optimal lifespan, according to a release issued by the French Catholic board. Starting this fall, 253 students attending La Source, located at 1550 Verchere St., will move about four kilometres to the former QPS building.
Since the two sites are close, the transportation schedule and area will remain the same.
“As is common practice at the (French Catholic school board), the parents of student at (La Source) were consulted in order to determine their needs and explain the circumstances surrounding the move,” said Lise Bourgeois, director of education for the French Catholic board. “We’re happy to be able to provide our students with school facilities that foster the personalized instruction model of education.”
“The families of (La Source) have been waiting a long time for this moment,” added board chair Diane Doré. “We’re really happy to have found a solution so as to offer their children an environment that is conducive to living and learning.”
The French Catholic board received $4.5 million in funding granted by Ontario’s Ministry of Education to make the move. A portion of the funding will be used to upgrade the former QPS building before students head to class in late August. The French Catholic board will build and equip two new classrooms, replace the flooring and intercom system, paint the facility and upgrade the computer network.
Céline Bourbonnais, communications officer with the French Catholic Board, said it’s not yet known what will happen to the old La Source building, adding it will sit empty until the board decides what to do with it.
As for the Queenswood Heights community, Shea indicated the deal is good news all around because the property will stay in public hands instead of being sold to a developer.
“It sold to another school board, so it’ll stay largely in tact,” he said, adding the community will continue to have access to the property.