The Western Quebec School Board was tight-lipped about the push for a brand new, state-of-the-art building to house the Wakefield Elementary school during a press conference June 28, but members wouldn’t turn down the volume on the $6.3 million the WQSB is getting from the province to expand the current facility.
While there was some buzzing in the halls about how the board will try to get approval for a new building, nobody would speak on the record. Even La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere was ready to offer the school board a Riverside property for the new location, but he was told that today wasn’t the day for those types of discussions.
The news of the day was the multimillion-dollar school expansion projected for 2013.
“It’s actually a good day, it’s a happy day,” announced Gatineau MNA Stephanie Vallee before a room full of teachers, school staff, WQSB board members and reporters at the Wakefield Elementary School.
“Your school board came to me to see how we could push forward the project – to have more classes and a nicer school for the kids.”
The $6.3 million will be spent on removing the decrepit portables, which were once home to mould and asbestos problems, and the construction of 10 new classrooms to handle the growing student population.
According to the WQSB, attendance numbers have been on the rise in Wakefield since 2007 when the school had 334 students. Although enrolment dipped slightly in 2008 and 2009, it picked back up in the 2010-2011 year with 345 kids. This year’s enrolment was at 355 students. Looking ahead, the school board projects a student population of 425 for the 2016-2017 school year.
“Neatly tucked away between the hills of Gatineau Park and the Gatineau River, Wakefield is a gorgeous community currently experiencing a problem in population growth, but a very happy problem; we just love these problems,” said WQSB Council of Commissioners Chair Michael Chiasson.
“This ten-classroom addition will benefit our students’ learning process, provide parents with relief that their children are no longer learning in the portables and allow teachers to teach in the safest environment possible. This will give students the proper surroundings to reach their potential.”
Construction for the new classrooms won’t likely begin until next summer, after school is out.