Connaught milestone – still going strong

École Connaught Community School celebrates another important milestone this coming week, the 100th anniversary of the first day of classes. Connaught School was constructed in 1912 and opened its doors on Sept. 1, 1913.

“The school is going strong, and there are no plans to close it. It has a remarkable history and a solid future,” said Rene Dumont, chair of Save Our Connaught Heritage. The group wants to get the word out that Connaught remains an excellent option for students.

“In its effort to promote construction of a new open concept school, the school board may have cast an overly negative light on Connaught. We’d like to counter that,” Dumont said. The building hasn’t been declared unsafe by Regina Public Schools and statements that the foundation is failing remain unproven, he noted. Neither are there plans to close the school.

“Connaught is a highly welcoming, creative place for learning. We have caring teachers and school-community connections that are second to none in the public system,” Dumont said.  “As well, the kids really seem to enjoy the building’s historic atmosphere. It’s constructed with sturdy natural materials like oak, brick, and stone, and is surrounded by mature shade trees. You won’t find many other schools like it.”

With construction plans on hold due to lack of funding, Save Our Connaught Heritage would like the school board to invest in basic building maintenance, such as improving site drainage, and to consider a phased-in, mid-cost renovation as a potential future option, as has been done in other cities. An important step is to scientifically examine the structure rather than using a ‘best guess’ approach that drives contingency estimates to the maximum, Dumont said.

In addition to working on a legal case to allow independent experts into the building, Save Our Connaught Heritage will be asking the provincial auditor to investigate the manner in which school capital requests are submitted to the province. The group wants an unbiased, accurate process that ensures proper checks and balances for taxpayers. They would also like Regina Public Schools to make a positive statement in support of the school as it now stands, given that it won’t be replaced in the immediate future.

“Our message to the public is that Connaught has an incredible community of support that will keep the doors open for the next 100 years,” Dumont said. “It’s a beautiful old school in a park-like setting, in the heart of a vibrant, safe neighbourhood. It’s exactly the kind of place many families seek for their children.”

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