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PRSD board of trustees approves the start of the modernization process for BIE/Senator Gershaw

Posted on April 15, 2020 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward

Commentator/Courier

Prairie Rose School Division’s board of trustees passed a motion to START the modernization process of Senator Gershaw School and Bow Island Elementary school, pending funding, from Alberta Education at their April 7 meeting.
The modernization would allow for Senator Gershaw to become a K-to-12 school with students shifting over from BIE and Burdett School students moving into the existing BIE.
BIE would be modernized to become a K-to-9 school for the Burdett School students.
Burdett School would then be closed and torn down.
“There is no timeline on this because it’s pending funding,” said Roger Clarke, PRSD superintendent.
“We have a Capital Plan that is approved every year by our board of trustees and our number one item is this. When I say our number one, that doesn’t happen until Alberta Education approves the funding. It could take a year, two years, it could take 10 years.”
Alberta Education will not approve funds until a professional is sent into to do a value scoping exercise on the three buildings to see if there is a good solution in place.
“If it’s a good solution, what is the scope of what needs to happen?” said Clarke.
“And through sending engineers and people who know about construction, they are able to put a dollar value to that.”
Clarke added once Alberta Education does the scoping exercise, they’re put into a mix of province-wide projects for approvals.
Public consultations were held back in February at both schools and a factor that went into considering modernization of both schools was where a majority of the Burdett students came from.
“Three-quarters of the population that attend school in Burdett, they’re actually from the Bow Island catchment area,” said Clarke.
“We’re busing them out of Bow Island, and we’re not funded to do that, to Burdett. We’re also busing non-Mennonite students from Burdett to Bow Island without being funded.”
Clarke heard at the consultations this is sensible move, rational, efficient, services the populations well and use spaces well.
He realizes change will be hard for Burdett.
“Change would be hard for long-term staff members in the Burdett area,” he said.
“They can understand the logic of it, but that doesn’t mean it changes the heart in terms of the history of Burdett School. I think everyone agrees that there’s always some sadness when it comes to closing a school that’s existed for a long time.”
The data that also was brought to those consultations showed that it would cost $16 million to do a modernizations to Burdett School and would only cost $5 to $6 million to add modular units and adequate classroom space to BIE and Senator Gershaw.
He is hopeful the value scoping exercise will occur within the next year.

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