Call it the nesting effect.
The city’s former elementary school is not for sale right now, at least until its students are safely nestled into their new home in the Rossland Secondary School (RSS) building, says the chair of School District 20’s finance and facilities committee.
Mark Wilson said although the sale of the school officially kicked off two weeks ago with a public meeting in Rossland—and there has been an “expression of interest” from the city’s Francophone school—School District 20 will only entertain offers on MacLean Elementary School right now.
The district cannot pursue anything any further in the way of a sale or a negotiation on MacLean until the hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations planned for RSS are complete and the kindergarten to Grade 9 grades are in class.
“It’s one of those things that it’s out there, but it’s not for sale right now until we are in Rossland K-9,” said Wilson. “We have to make sure we are in the new K-9 school, 100 per cent, before we can think of entertaining an offer.”
The school district will not commit to anyone until that happens. Something could happen over the summer, like a strike or a lack of supplies, said Wilson, that could set back the compressed time frame for the renovations to turn the high school building into an elementary school.
And, when completed, the school district has to be satisfied the facility is suitable for elementary school students before it releases its hold on MacLean.
“No matter what, we have to have a facility for these kids in fall,” he said.
The Francophones are interested in purchasing the school right now, Wilson said, and there could be other community groups in the running for the school when the process resumes in earnest later this year.
“The Francophones have only given the school district a letter of interest and that is as far as it goes,” he said.
As for MacLean, when the school goes back on the market
MacLean would be sold as is, leaded water problem and all.
SD20 superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach has said the school district would disclose the water problem when a sale happened, and people would be apprised of the situation before buying. But it would not be fixed.
On the move?
The downtown Trail school board office will be moving into the old Trail Middle School—now the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre—after years of rumours of it moving, Wilson confirmed.
The board is looking to get out of its current lease situation in the Fortis BC building in downtown Trail.
“We could be (at Trail Middle School) before December of this year,” he said.
With Fortis BC now expected to buy the whole building where the offices reside, it would mean the power company would buy SD20 out, and the lease issue would be resolved.
That would allow SD20 to move across the river to a building it already owns so it would save thousands on lease payments right now. How much would be saved, Wilson did not know.
As well, no renovations would be needed and it would bring more usage to an under utilized facility, he noted.
“We just have to cut. It’s one of the big things,” he said.
Another committee examining the number of trustees in the district overturned a proposal by Wilson—who sat as its chair—to reduce the amount of trustees in School District 20, and save even more money for the district in the process.
Wilson said with only 11 schools in the district it was ridiculous to have almost one trustee per school—at nine—when it could be as effective with less.
“It’s one of those things, it’s hard to vote down your own job,” said Wilson of the trustees on the committee.
“But I thought it would have really shown a lot of leadership on our part because we are making all these cuts everywhere else.”