The days of both the Thornhill Primary and Thornhill Elementary buildings could be numbered provided a wide-ranging plan of the Coast Mountains School District is approved.
Both would be torn down and replaced by a single facility worth an estimated $29.6 million in 2017 dollars based on a district-wide study released last year which examined the physical state of the district’s schools and enrolment projections.
Based on that study, school trustees developed a capital projects plan and have now sent it to the provincial education ministry.
Tearing down both Thornhill schools and building one replacement is forecast for 2020-2021, provided the district receives the money it needs from the provincial government.
The study by Cascade Facilities Management Consultants determined that the condition of both schools and enrolment projections justified the plan.
“The request to the ministry for a replacement that would merge both schools is based on the current capacity of both schools not being met, the age/condition of both buildings despite substantial improvements recently, and reduce operational costs,” said Travis Elwood, the district’s official responsible for its facilities.
While both Thornhill Primary and Thornhill Elementary have space for roughly 300 students, enrolment for each hovers between 150 and 190.
The two Thornhill schools are not the only ones on the replacement list submitted to the province — a consolidated elementary school and a new Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat and a consolidated Hazelton elementary school are also wanted.
In total, the school district is looking for $161.9 million in 2017 dollars for the projects beginning in 2019 and stretching into 2023-2024.
“All request timelines would be based on support from the Ministry which would lead into the consultation process with community groups,” said Elwood.
School district officials have said, however, that any replacement and construction plans would first be fully explained and opinions sought by the public.
The 2017 facilities plan was commissioned by the school district so that it had project information at the ready for submission to the provincial government when requested.
Elwood said it was far too early to talk about what might happen to the current Thornhill schools once approval for a new facility is given.
With a three-year budget of $1.7 billion for capital projects, which includes $552 million for seismic upgrades, the province will weigh the needs of 60 school districts in B.C.
Just last week the province announced it was providing up to $30.8 million to build a two-storey school in Fort St. John with enough room for 505 kindergarten to Grade 6 students.
It’ll include a neighbourhood learning centre with child care, before-and-after school care and multi-purpose spaces for community use.
The school district in Fort St. John is contributing $300,000 of its own money.