By Lawrence Powell
The province has approved funds to the tune of $6.9 million to turn Annapolis West Education Centre into a Grade 6 to 12 school. Approval of the project means Annapolis Royal Regional Academy will close, much to the dismay of many local residents who feel ARRA is a superior learning facility.
AWEC, the current high school, will be home to about 440 students by the time the upgrades and renovations project is completed in 2014-15.
"Putting kids and learning first means providing the best learning environment for students to be successful," said Education Minister Ramona Jennex. "By working with our partners, we will ensure Annapolis West Education Centre meets the needs of students for many years to come."
She said the province is investing in this school now so the work can begin immediately and benefit students sooner.
Once the renovations and upgrades are completed, the school will be home to all Grade 6 to Grade 12 students from the area. The renovations include improvements to instructional spaces and the expansion of the Skilled Trades program.
"I am pleased that this funding is coming to our area," said Sandi Millett-Campbell, member of the School Advisory Council. "The renovations to Annapolis West Education Centre will definitely be an asset to our community, and it will bring benefits for all of the students from the town and the surrounding area."
The province will allocate $1 million to the project for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The school board will manage the project in collaboration with the Department of Education.
Stu Jamieson, director of finance and operations for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, said the initial funding of $1 million in the current year will allow the planned building addition to support the new Skilled Trades Program to be completed over the next few months while architectural and engineering consultants are engaged to carry out detailed design for the remainder of the work.
He said the bulk of the project funding, $4.9 million, has been allocated to the 2013-2014 fiscal year with the remaining $1 million being available in the spring of 2014 to complete the project.
In addition to the Skilled Trades addition, new ventilation system, electrical upgrades, and improvements to instructional spaces identified in the Connor Architects and Planners Report, the project approval includes funding to facilitate some building design improvements related to the building entrance and administrative areas.
He said the board is pleased that the scope of the project includes funding to address the additional needs.
Jamieson said the project was able to receive early approval as a result of the board’s decision earlier this year to consolidate the students from the Annapolis Royal Regional Academy and the Annapolis West Education Centre at AWEC once renovations had been completed. Based on the funding provided, AWEC should be ready to accommodate the students from ARRA in September 2014.