It may be January 2018 before the students of South Plympton School move to Wyoming.
Last year, the Lambton-Kent District School Board decided to amalgamate the two schools due to low enrolment. Most parents understood the move but were apprehensive about the timing. The board initially wanted the students together in Wyoming by September 2016.
After working with the Accommodation Review Committee, the board decided September 2017 would be a more realistic time frame. Parents also wanted to be sure the children would not be in the middle of a construction zone.
Recently, the province provided $3.7 million for the $5.9 million project in Wyoming.
Monday night, the board and its architect ROA from Chatham, unveiled the design for the project and talked to The Independent about the timelines for construction.
Marco Raposo of ROA says there are two phases to the construction – a new building which will house the gymnasium, day care, new change rooms, and then renovations to the existing school.
Interior renovations will take place mostly through the summer.
Rapso hopes construction on the new portion of the school building will begin in March.
Rapso says they know parents have concerns about children in a construction zone. He says fencing is planned around the perimeter of the new building which will include the gym. There will be a separate construction entrance away from the school yard and in the school, the contractor will build a new wall in the hallway near the interior construction – including drywall – to keep the construction out of sight of the children.
“If we need to use things like saws to cut concrete which might be fueled by diesel, they’ll have to go outside,” says Rapso, adding that will make sure the air quality in the school is maintained.
Lambton Kent District School Board Superintendent of Operations, Brian McKay, says while the work on the new part of the school will begin as soon as the weather allows, it will take about 10 months to complete. McKay says right now, it appears the earliest the students could move into the school is January 2018. “What does that look like, is it over the two weeks of Christmas break?” says McKay adding the transition team is trying to figure out the move.
Crystal Hordyk, whose children attend South Plympton, was on the accommodation review committee. She came to see the plans of the board Monday but was surprised to hear her children might not switch schools until 2018.
“I thought in September 2017, my kids would be starting here,” she told The Independent. Hordyk hopes the board uses the extra time to help the South Plympton students get to know the new school. “Hopefully they focus on some visits to Wyoming,” she says “so it is not there here one day here and the next day they’re over there…They need to do it slowly especially for the the little ones who don’t understand what’s going on.”
Hordyk, who still has concerns about walking distances for children and crossing major roadways, was positive about the plans the board has to maintain safety while construction is going on. “As long as it is not going to interrupt the child’s learning; as long as they’re not hearing tools and drills while they’re concentrating while they’re in school.”