Red River Valley School Division’s board of trustees approved a promissory note listing school renovation costs to be provincially funded.
Renovations totalling $1,145,900 were included in the note at the board’s March 22 meeting. The fixes aren’t part of the school division’s budget — the province pays for these separately. On the list were items Red River Valley had paid and needed reimbursement for, and projects they were receiving funds for in advance.
It’s unclear how school renovations will be chosen under the province’s proposed education model, according to division superintendent and CEO Brad Curtis.
Bill 64, or the Education Modernization Act, sees the dissolution of current school districts and the removal of trustees and superintendents. Instead, one education authority will oversee 15 school regions. There will be community councils for each school and a director of education for each region.
Division scolaire franco-manitobaine is not included in the proposed change.
"We are all going to fall under the provincial education authority," Curtis said. "There will be lots of changes coming that we don’t have details on right now, and I don’t believe the province does either."
Manitoba doesn’t yet have a plan on how to pick and pursue school renovations under its proposed structure, according to the Ministry of Education.
"School capital planning and prioritization is the responsibility of the Manitoba government, taking into consideration local needs," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said in an email. "A process for regions to identify potential projects will be developed in consultation with stakeholders."
The province also doesn’t have a set funding model for cash to flow from the government to schools for renovations if Bill 64 is passed.
"The funding model is still to be developed and we will be consulting with sector stakeholders and other partners in ensuring a nimble, coordinated process that addresses local needs," the spokesperson wrote.
Issuing promissory notes is the "standard way that (school divisions) do capital projects" right now, according to Robyn Collette, Red River Valley School Division’s acting secretary-treasurer.
The March 22 promissory note from the school division listed a variety of different projects ranging from just beginning to near-completion. The division has 14 schools covering areas like Brunkild, Domain, Oak Bluff, Starbuck and Sanford, among other communities.
The note listed $491,500 for additions and renovations to École St.-Malo School — the province has only committed to its design phase, according to Collette — and $212,500 for a modular classroom at the school.
Roof repairs at École Héritage Immersion had a $119,800 price tag on the list; upgrades to Oak Bluff Community School’s and Lowe Farm School’s HVAC systems needed $79,800 and $82,500 payments, respectively; Morris School’s roof replacement cost $53,700; Lowe Farm School’s gym floor replacement totalled $59,100; and J.A. Cuddy School’s roof repairs called for $33,400.
Some multi-year projects are wrapping up, Collette said. These include Oak Bluff Community School’s fascia remediation, which had a $12,000 cost on the March 22 promissory note, and renovations to J.A. Cuddy School’s exterior at $1,600.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at email@example.com