An artist’s rendering of the new school and community hub at the Beverly Community Centre site. The project is expected to be completed by September 2019. – HWDSB photo
The school communities of Beverly Central, Dr. John Seaton and Queen’s Rangers got an update on the new school project at the Beverly Community Centre site on Wednesday, March 21 at the Beverly Community Centre.
The junior kindergarten to Grade 8 school, which has not yet been named, is currently waiting for an approval from the Ministry of Transportation to widen Highway 8, said the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) project manager Devon Krymuza.
“Construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months,” she said, noting the approval is expected imminently and construction is expected to begin weeks after. “Historically, with the builds we’ve done in the past few years, 12-14 months for an elementary school is realistic.”
The board is expecting the school to be open for September 2019.
“We’re expecting news, literally any day now.” Superintendent Michael Prendergast.Superintendent Michael Prendergast noted the highway widening is required to allow for dedicated left- and right-turn lanes into the school property. The new building will be located between the Beverly Community Centre and Highway 8.
“We’re expecting news, literally any day now,” he said of the ministry approvals.
Krymuza said at this time, the design does not include lights on the highway. While there are currently no plans to have a decreased school zone speed limit in front of the school, Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said she plans to raise the issue at the city’s HWDSB liaison committee.
“I think it only makes sense to have it,” she said of the decreased speed limit.
She noted the new school is 46,000 square-feet and is designed to accommodate 465 students.
While the school was originally designed for 347 students, the board applied for and received an additional $3.46 million to boost the capacity to 465. The funding, announcing in January, was necessary to accommodate students from Queen’s Rangers and added six classrooms to the design.
The funding is in addition to the previous $7.5 million already committed and includes $1.8 million from the city committed for a 3,800 square-foot community space within the school.
She said the school features 16 classrooms, two special education rooms, two resource rooms and a 4,100 square-foot double gymnasium. As well, there is a dedicated room for instrumental music, a learning commons, art room and science room.
The school includes three kindergarten classrooms, each of which is about 1,000 square feet, which feature their own washroom facilities and direct access to the kindergarten-only outdoor play area.
Krymuza said the building will be heated with hydro, and noted the community centre’s existing well has sufficient capacity for the new facility.
In terms of internet service, she said there will be direct lines to the school, with wireless internet throughout the building.
Prendergast noted the community hub space has a separate entrance, and will have no access to the school area.
City of Hamilton director of recreation services Chris Herstek said the community space will be used for fitness and seniors programming, as well as mom and tot programs.
He added through a reciprocal agreement, the community space will also feature access to the gymnasium after school hours, while the school will have access to ice at the arena for physical education programming.
Prendergast added the school will have access to the green space and playing fields at the community centre grounds.
Dave Anderson, the board’s senior manager of facilities management, said while there will be incidentals that are missed or not included in the capital funding, he hopes the board meets 99.9 per cent of expectations.
“If you took the building and shook it, everything that doesn’t fall out, we provide,” he said.
While the board is aiming for a September opening, Prendergast said if the construction runs long, they don’t expect to move students to the new school mid-term.
“It really depends what’s best for the community and the school,” he said. “The fewer disruptions, the better.”
“We’re not going to do something just because the building is ready, the lights are on and the heat is working — we’re going to wait for the right time.”
In terms of the teaching staff for new school, Prendergast said while they have to honour collective agreements, they hope to minimize the disruption to students.
“We will try to restructure those classes and if we can keep them together, we will do that,” he said. “Those teachers won’t be displaced — they will have first pick at moving with their community into the new build.”
Ward 13 and 14 trustee Greg Van Geffen stressed that the school has not yet been named — a process that will be dealt with through a transition committee.
“Given the timelines right now, if we’re talking a September 2019 opening … by the time we reach September 2018 it would seem likely discussions are going to start taking place about striking that transition committee.”
Prendergast said the committee, which will likely meet five to six times throughout the school year, will discuss everything from the school name and colours to the mascot, bell times and before and after school care.