Provincial funding sought for renovation project: School division applies for McNaughton project

February 26, 2024, 8:25 am
Kevin Weedmark and Ashley Bochek

South East Cornerstone School Division has applied for up to $10 million in funding for a renovation project for McNaughton High School, above.

The South East Cornerstone School Division is applying to the provincial government to fund a $10 million renovation project for McNaughton High School in Moosomin.

“The Minor Capital submission is going to focus on health and safety, first off, which is like the fire suppression, electrical upgrades accessibility, additional washrooms, etc.,” said Director of Education Keith Keating.

“It will also look at the re-modernization of the school, so like interior and exterior, windows, doors, stucco, brick repointing etc., as well as looking at some programing upgrades, specifically Practical and Applied Arts. Air conditioning will be part of what we put in the proposal, but we’ll see what we get.”

Why did the school division decide to apply for a capital project for McNaughton High at this time? “I think there’s a compelling argument to apply for minor funding in that one to ten million dollar range,” said Keating.

“The input from the community helped confirm that, with support from almost all participants who answered the survey,” said Keating.

He said the plans have been in the works for a couple of years.

“It’s been a couple of years that we’ve been thinking about it because they just came out with that Minor Capital Project Application, so we’ve been thinking about where would be a good place to do that and Moosomin was at the forefront of the communities that could really utilize that.

“We worked pretty hard with the school admin as well as Facilities and Transportation for feedback but then the community consultation provided some further consideration for priorities for us. That helped assist us with that application process. There will be additional input from staff and students if there’s an approval from the province.”

The program the funding is being sought through has an upper limit of $10 million, and the Moosomin project is likely to come in close to the limit.

“The application will be on the mid to high end of that $10 million dollar cap. Just looking at all of the things that we’d like to do at McNaughton School,” said Keating.

“The deadline for applications is February 29 so I know that Facilities has been busily working away on the application. They’re just waiting for some letters of support and some further information from the Provincial Education Plan and some of the things around PA opportunities for the school admin so that they can get that in before that February 29 deadline.

“That approval is typically given at budget time and a project can get approval quickly or can sit on the provincial lists for awhile before being approved, so we’re hoping for sooner rather than later.”

If the project is approved in the budget this March, the work would be done within two years.

“What they look at is that two year timeline from approval,” says Keating. “You’re then looking at the two school year timeframe to get things in place and get that going. There is an opportunity for an extension and looking at the scope of what we applied for, if there is an approval, it could be beyond that two year time scope. As we do that project of course, there’s the project itself but there’s the added complexity of providing programs for students while that renovation is going on as well.”

The plan is at the conceptual phase at this point.

“Right now we have third party engineer reports which are required, which detail concerns, requirements and solutions, but it’s more of a conceptual plan at this point. Detailed construction plans would follow the successful completion of an application,” said Keating.

He said school staff will be consulted as plans are developed, if the project is approved.

“It certainly would be the best practice to engage them when appropriate,” he said. “The staff are providing the program in the school and I think you heard during the community consultation that they provide a broad range of options for students in the school in Moosomin, so we’ll be working fairly closely with them if an approval were granted.”

While school divisions are allowed to submit up to two applications for minor capital projects in a budget cycle, the McNaughton project is the only application in the works by the school division at this point.

Keating said he is hopeful the province approves the McNaughton application.
“It really does depend on what they see across the province in terms of those Minor Capital Renovations,” he said. “As the process is relatively new, it’s hard to say how many they will approve. All we can really do is cross our fingers and hope at this point.

“The letters of support from the community are one of the factors they look at. It’s not the only factor they would look at but ultimately there are limited dollars at the provincial level that they’re going to spread out so it really depends on what the other communities are looking at in terms of the Minor Capital Renovations and how much they can spread those dollars out.”