Windsor Star

Tender for new Catholic high school approved

- MARY CATON mcaton@postmedia.com twitter.com/winstarcat­on

Stephen Lecce, Ontario's minister of education, says he's looking forward to visiting Windsor to see the new Catholic Central high school once it's built.

Lecce joined Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, MPP Rick Nicholls (C — Chatham-kent-leamington), and officials with the Windsor-essex Catholic District School Board on a Zoom call Thursday to announce the government's approval of the tender by the board for Oscar Constructi­on Company.

“The Windsor-essex Catholic District School Board has the approval to award the tender to replace Catholic Central school,” Lecce said Thursday.

The board of trustees actually awarded the tender to Oscar Constructi­on March 16 and Dilkens noted how it looked like there was constructi­on activity already happening at 2465 Mcdougall Ave. when he drove by.

Board chair Fulvio Valentinis said some preliminar­y work was being done already and that “you're going to see quite a bit of action in the coming days and weeks. We have a tight deadline.” The $30-million, two-storey school is slated to open September 2022.

“We're confident it's going to be an extraordin­ary building in the centre of our city,” Valentinis said.

Lecce noted the new build provides some sunlight in “the darkness” of a challengin­g year.

“I'm looking forward to seeing it built,” Lecce said. “I've wanted to come out to Windsor since last year but COVID got in the way.”

Dilkens spoke of the tenacity of Valentinis and others with the school board in seeing the project through.

“I fear this would be a different outcome if left to its own devices,” Dilkens said. “There were years of delay and waiting, it was quite painful to get traction.”

The board identified the need to replace the existing Catholic Central on Tecumseh Road East seven years ago.

The government announced $26 million in funding for a new school in 2016.

Originally, the board selected the old Windsor Arena site, but in 2019 the board announced that was no longer the preferred location for a new school.

In June 2019, the government provided $7 million for the purchase of the 11-acre site on Mcdougall Avenue.

Valentinis gave a nod to trustee Bernie Mastromatt­ei.

“Getting the school built was his top priority,” Valentinis said.

“For too long, Windsor families had to wait for real investment in their schools and communitie­s,” Lecce said. “Parents and students deserve investment and modern schools that will best protect their safety and enable quality learning.”

Nicholls said he attended the announceme­nt as the closest sitting member of provincial government.

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