Report released to SOCH

Regina Public Schools has been sitting on a report since August that gives the building a longer life expectancy and puts into question the need to underpin Connaught School.  However, the report also highlights the need for structural tests, a recommendation Regina Public continues to adamantly oppose.

The report by BBK Engineers gave the building a longer shelf life of 10 years, and said “no safety items were noted except at the original front entrance, which has been dealt with.”  The report said the footings were deemed to be of sufficient size, and underpinning was not among the recommendations, something that had previously been flagged as a $4.5 million undertaking. This would renovation costs just below the cost of building new. However, the report raises concerns about the floor and ceiling slabs.

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Board of Education motion

RBE minutes for Oct. 15, 2013

Motion by Miss A. Young:
WHEREAS the Board has researched the implications of obtaining a Heritage Designation for École Connaught Community School; and Whereas obtaining such a designation would serve to limit the Board’s options; BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Board decline the request from the Connaught School Community Council to seek a heritage designation for the existing facility.
Motion Carried.

Carla Beck’s original motion was left on the table and not dealt with.

New school questioned

Brigette Zerr, a parent at Regina’s newly built Douglas Park School, questions the wisdom of new school builds in this video. She states that parent input was ignored, resulting in a building that – although perhaps a hit in the design theory world – hampers her children’s learning. Problems that didn’t exist in their old school building, such as excessive noise, overly large class sizes and the distractions of open architecture, are now a challenge for students. When you take away the walls, there’s no limit to class size, and Brigette’s son is now struggling in a class of 50 students.

Teach-in will explore school options

Connaught family by Dakota McFazdeanFuture options for century-old Connaught School will be on the agenda at an informal community gathering at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre this Thursday evening.

The evening will feature a brief slide show presentation by building conservator June Botkin, who has been working with conservation experts across the country to study available information about Connaught School. As well, parents with children in new schools will describe their transitions to the school design concepts currently being promoted by Regina Public.

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Coming up!

Info Night Poster

Community Information night – 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Cathedral Centre

Heritage status debated

Davin School, built in 1929, is on the city's heritage holding bylaw list.

Davin School, built in 1929, is on the city’s heritage holding bylaw list, a good place to start for seeking provincial heritage status.

Connaught was centre stage at last night’s school board meeting, after trustee Aleana Young once again put forward her recommendation to NOT pursue heritage status for Regina’s oldest public school. Trustees Carla Beck and Kathleen O’Reilly spoke in favour of heritage designation, arguing it would cost the board nothing, while buying community good will and opening up new partnership opportunities for school renewal.

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Moose Jaw prepares historic schools for the next century

A tour of Moose Jaw’s renovated historic schools reveals night-and-day attitudes in cities just 45 minutes apart. Prairie South School Division values heritage, schools are kept in good shape, facility planning relies on local and in-house expertise, and renovations cost in the low millions, not 10s of millions. Board staff also warmly welcome the public to visit and examine their facilities. A breath of fresh air, and proof that alternative approaches are possible!

Trustees to study heritage designation

photoThe potential benefits of heritage designation for Connaught School will be further investigated by trustees. Trustee Carla Beck had originally put forward a motion to explore heritage status back in June. It came back to the table at last night’s board school board meeting with a recommendation “that the board not pursue a heritage designation for Ecole Connaught Community School at this time.” The recommendation, prepared by Director Julie MacRae, was accompanied by background information about city designations and a briefing note that explained, “Many of the City of Regina heritage incentives are tax-relief based. This would provide no benefit as RPS properties are tax-exempt.” It was put forward by trustee Aleanna Young, who was praised for her research on the file, along with board staff. However trustee Beck requested more information about federal and provincial grant sources beyond the City of Regina, as well as an opportunity for trustees to meet with heritage organizations. In a vote, the majority of the board agreed with Beck’s request. What happens next? We can hope representatives of Regina’s heritage community and the province’s Heritage Branch will now sit down with the board and develop a solid plan for heritage designation and renovation support.  Read the Motion and Briefing Note

Connaught group seeks provincial audit review

A request to examine school capital funding requests was submitted to the acting provincial auditor today by a group of citizens who want a second estimate on renovating Connaught School.

“We have concerns about the practice of submitting single-source estimates, and what appears to be limited oversight in assessing their reliability,” said Rene Dumont, chair of Save Our Connaught Heritage. “Our request is specific to the case of Connaught School in Regina, however the findings could be broadly applicable to all school divisions and districts.”

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See Moose Jaw’s renovated historic schools

Prince Arthur school

Prince Arthur School. Peel Library Postcard Collection. Postcard 12731, Published by Gowen Sutton Co.

What does a renovated historic school look like? On Sept. 28, Heritage Regina is offering a bus tour of renovated historic schools of Moose Jaw! Moose Javians will be on hand to take us inside their 100-year-old-plus schools. We’ll get to learn about their history and details of the renovations that have been done.

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