The Prince George School District has committed to raise $5.5 million to build a 900-student replacement for Duchess Park Secondary School.
On Jan. 24 the district received a letter from the Ministry of Education stating the provincial government would provide $25.5 million to build a 650-student school Â despite the district’s request for a 900-student facility.
“The board committed to raise $5.5 million to pay for the 900-student school,” district superintendent Brian Pepper said. “We will look at selling excess Duchess Park property and other properties.”
The district board of trustees is dedicated to the concept of a 900-student school, despite the financial challenges, Pepper said.
“If we are left with the 650 [student] school the ministry will provide us, it will mean a disruption to a whole bunch of schools,” district trustee Lois Boone said earlier this month. “It would mean shuffling kids from school to school. It’s not something we want to see.”
In addition, the smaller school wouldn’t have the same breadth of facilities as a larger school, Boone said.
The replacement school is slated to be built on the site of the former King George V Elementary school and district administration buildings located adjacent to Duchess Park’s current location.
The new facility will house Duchess Park’s 600 students, 300 French Immersion students and 50 Counseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique students. Minister of Education Shirley Bond announced the province would fund a replacement for the 50-year-old school in April 2005. At the time the cost was estimated at $18 million.
Pepper said the district will most likely sell the site of the current Duchess Park school once the new school is complete.
In a letter to the district, assistant deputy education minister Keith Miller committed to assist the board if it comes up short in fundraising efforts.
“The ministry appreciates the board’s commitment to fund this portion of the project,” Miller wrote. “Despite best efforts, should the board be unable to secure all this proposed funding through asset sales, additional capital funding will be provided to enable the successful completion of the Duchess Park project.”