School divisions working together


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December 18, 2014 9:05 AM

Students and staff at St. Mary's Elementary School were treated to a turkey dinner at their annual Christmas lunch hosted by the St. Mary's Parent Council on Monday, Dec. 15. - Jaime Polmateer Photo

The Lloydminster Public School division and Lloydminster Catholic School Division signed an agreement on Monday for an application to build a new joint-use elementary school.

Officials from both divisions attended the meeting and Dave Thomas, board chair from LPSD, thinks both sides are feeling good about the partnership approach to the application for a new school.

“The agreement at this point is just an agreement to jointly submit an application for a new school,” he said. “Then the next step would be to develop what we would call a business case with the ministry. In other words show them our numbers and the need and so on.”

He said their target would be to make that case mutually with LCSD and present it to the ministry by the end of next June. According to Thomas, the premier and the minister of education both indicated that they hold joint applications in higher priority than stand alone applications.

“So, hopefully it brings us to the top of their list more quickly than if we were to just apply for a school on our own,” he said.

The idea for the project came about after looking at other schools across Saskatchewan and seeing the success for joint use applications. Thomas noted that Swift Current had their joint-use school officially open in September.

Talks began between LPSD and LCSD and they found there was a mutual interest in such a project between the two divisions. They had been in discussions for a few weeks and Thomas said it was gratifying to be able to sign an agreement this week.

If the project goes through, both divisions would have separate principals and staff and would be able to develop their own scholastic cultures within the same building, but common areas of the school would be shared, giving the public a better bang for their buck when it comes to tax dollars.

“Because we have a somewhat different mandate ... respect for that would have to be carefully guarded, but it’s very exciting to have the two school divisions say, ‘Hey, we’re ready to look at this together and see what parts we can share and still serve our own needs,’” said Thomas.

The school wouldn’t be operational anytime in the near future, the whole process typically taking a few years to complete, but Thomas said they brought the idea up to the city of Lloydminster and were assured suitable space would be provided for the building if it gets the go ahead.

“I think it’s looked upon favourably, the city seemed to look very favourably on this,” said Thomas.

“I think taxpayers look favourably on approaches that give them a greater value for their tax dollars.”

Thomas said the idea is a positive shift for both divisions and the partnership could have “spin offs” on other areas where the two could possibly collaborate together as well.

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