The result of a June public session in Rossland to decide the fate of MacLean Elementary School and its associated Annex has narrowed the field of seven options for the two school structures.
The board of trustees for School District 20 is expected to be dealing with selling MacLean to the local French school, while the Annex will go up on the open market, two options out of the seven presented to a small gathering of Rosslanders in a public meeting in late June at MacLean.
The district still has not yet answered all questions arising out of the public meeting. The school board was required under its own bylaw to hold that public meeting to begin the process of the sale, and see what the community wished to do with the school.
The meeting marked the beginning of the formal process of deciding what to do with the MacLean Elementary School, the Annex building and its lands.
At the time the board intimated it was “prepared to receive input from Rosslanders” in the meeting, and included seven options being considered by the board, with pros and cons associated with them.
But the motion to sell the buildings has not gone to the provincial government yet for their approval, said School District 20 board chair Darrell Ganzert.
In terms of how far the board has moved along those lines to sell is moot, said Ganzert, since the biggest concern is will the former RSS building be ready in September to accept primary students.
“We can’t tie our hands with a date right now,” he said.
Option A, to sell MacLean School to School District 93 (French school) is preferred by the board, while option B, to sell MacLean on the open market, is not.
Mark Wilson, the chair of SD20’s finance and facilities committee, said the building that currently houses the French school is on the market, unlike MacLean which is technically in the process of being sold, but won’t truly be offered for sale until students are adequately lodged in RSS.
“And the French school will continue in that space for fall unless they come up with an option to purchase the whole school,” he said.
The board may eventually choose to dispose of the building and its site by passing three readings of a bylaw, with consultation around the potential disposal of the MacLean Annex building and site going on at the same time as MacLean.
The Annex will be sold separately than MacLean when the two officially hit the market. In April the City of Rossland looked to annex the MacLean Elementary School Annex, passing a motion to reserve the right to purchase the MacLean School Annex from School District 20 by the end of the term if it was to contribute taxpayer money to fund kindergarten to Grade 12 education in Rossland.
The reasoning was owning the Annex would provide the city and its recreation department with stability for recreation and social programs and create opportunities to increase revenue through program creation.
“If the city lost the use of the Annex, the gymnastics programs would cease to exist as it is dependent on having access to the gymnastics equipment,” read a city staff report to council at the time. “The city does not own a comparable building in which the gymnastics equipment could be moved into.
But the City of Rossland is temporarily out of the running for the building it once coveted, said councillor Jill Spearn, who advanced the motion initially.
“Council wasn’t all that interested in the Annex, but that is not to say we won’t consider it and other buildings as we proceed into a social planning session in the near future,” she said in an email.
Renovation on schedule
The make over at the former high school is on track to make it habitable for primary students this fall, said School District 20 board of trustees’ chair Darrell Ganzert.
Some readjustments of schedules were made last month to put the project “on track,” he said.
Work is being done to the school to accommodate primary students, including washrooms (for smaller students), putting sinks in classrooms, re-purposing some rooms and sealing off some areas of the school.
The number of computer resoruce rooms will also be reduced to one.
“If you have many iPads they are much more flexible to use so chances are the school will lose a number of its computer rooms,” he said.
Annexing the Annex
The city had a reciprocal agreement with SD20 which allowed access to the MacLean Elementary School Annex.
The Annex is a large gymnasium that is split in half by a large retractable curtain. One end of the gymnasium has a fully functioning stage, complete with stage lighting, heavy curtains and offstage entrance and exits.
The lower floor of the Annex is currently the Francophone School and houses approximately 50 students, children and administrators in dedicated classrooms.
The city’s recreation department shares the custodial expense, heat and lighting and telephone line expense with the Francophone school. But there is no access during weekends, Pro-D days, spring break, summer or Christmas due to custodial contract.
The recreation department places recreation programs into the Annex, including a social “gymnastics” program for toddlers and their parents. The city also uses the Annex as backup for any program that uses the Maclean Field, if the weather turns nasty, and as backup when the Miners’ Union Hall is not available.
The recreation department owns approximately $10,000 worth of gymnastics equipment that is permanently set up in the back half of the gym.
Source: City of Rossland