French school board buys QPS build­ing

Orleans Star - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­tri­cia Lon­er­gan

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.

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