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Elementary School Update
Feb. 03, 2017
Over the past weeks, the Lakefield community’s interest has been piqued as passers-by have noticed construction vehicles at the old Lakefield Secondary High School building.
After months of Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) meetings surrounding the future of LDSS, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board voted six to five in favour of closing the high school. Additionally, the KPR Trustees voted to turn the high school into an elementary school for JK to grade 8 students.
Changes to the school have impacted, and will continue to impact the school community and the general public in a number of ways. All grades will move from the current Ridpath Junior Public School to the new site, as will Buckhorn Public School grades 7 and 8 students. Lakefield Intermediate School students will also move over into the newly renovated building. The Lakefield Youth Soccer Club may have to look for a new field to call home. Drivers will have to adjust to lower speed limits and school traffic. These are just some of the adjustments that the community will have to make.
Greg Kidd, Manager, Corporate Affairs for KPR was contacted about the construction plans for the high school-turned-elementary school, the Lakefield Intermediate School and the Lakefield Youth Soccer Club on Friday, January 27.
Mr. Kidd declined to comment immediately, however, W. R. (Rusty) Hicks, Director of Education and Secretary of the Board did provide details of the renovation plans, the current construction projects being carried out at the school, the fate of LDIS and did comment on the unavailability of the high school field to the Lakefield Youth Soccer Club several days later.
Currently, KPR staff are working inside the LDSS building, removing lockers, plumbing, etc, and preparing for the dedicated day care and Curve Lake First Nation spaces. The primary construction/renovation and demolition project has not been tendered yet. According to Mr. Hicks, the tender will be sent out shortly and the Board expects the renovations to be in full swing some time in May.
As part of the tendering process, the intermediate wing (building) will be demolished. The demolition will take place at or around the same time as the renovations. Mr. Hicks said that there are a number of reasons why the Board decided to tear down the LDISS building.
After discussions with the Chamber of Commerce and staff at the Municipality, Mr. Hicks stated that the there was no interest from the general community in using the 30,000 square foot building. It doesn’t make financial sense to maintain a structure and incur the expenses associated with it if it is of no use to the community. The new elementary school will provide sufficient space (i.e., gymnasium, music room) for community use.
Additionally, Mr. Hicks confirmed that a part of the decision to demolish the LDIS building was due to funding. “The government doesn’t fund empty spaces,” Hicks said.
During renovations local athletic groups and the community will have access to the school and the school property limited. The local Lakefield Youth Soccer Club, who use the high school soccer field during the summer may have to find another field. According to Mr. Hicks, the KPR Board and the Soccer Club are currently in discussions. The biggest concern, says Mr. Hicks, “is safety and parking.”
With the help of $6.38 million in provincial funding, the new elementary school --which is yet to be named-- will open in September 2017.