SPERD stands firm with decision to buy land
St. Paul Education Regional Division is standing firm with its decision to offer the East Central Francophone Education Region $200,000 to purchase two parcels of land located near the St. Paul Elementary School.
“There’s a bigger picture involved,” said SPERD Chair Heather Starosielski, when asked about SPERD’s decision to buy the land. She explained that although the history on the land dates back to the early 1990s, the eventual outcome brought about what was coined as the “St. Paul Solution.”
In the past six years, St. Paul has seen two brand new schools built, Glen Avon School and Ecole du Sommet, and modernizations have taken place at St. Paul Elementary School, St. Paul Regional High School, and the most recent and intensive modernization at Racette School. The projects were all part of the St. Paul Solution, says Starosielski.
The parcels of land in question were given to the francophone school board by the St. Paul division shortly after Ecole du Sommet was established, confirmed Starosielski. As she understood, it was the province that required the St. Paul division hand over the land so Ecole du Sommet had space for parking and a playground.
She admits that looking only at the land transfer on its own “raises some eyebrows,” but it was because of a court case that saw the francophone division challenge the province for a new school that effectively brought about a number of projects in the community, and the fulfillment of the St. Paul Solution.
Following the completion of the new Ecole du Sommet a few years ago, the old Ecole du Sommet building was transferred to the ECFER, and thus the land in question has been under the francophone board’s ownership.
The land is no longer needed by the francophone division, and the ECFER offered the land to SPERD before putting it out on the market, confirmed Guy Genereux, board chair with ECFER.
He agrees that the recent sale of the land is about more than just the land.
“It’s about the St. Paul Solution,” said Genereux, adding, at the end of the day it’s about what’s best for the students and the parents of those students in both school divisions, “and the community we live in.”
Genereux affirmed that the ECFER and SPERD have very good working relationships, and discussions with SPERD regarding the land were very positive. The process took a while, but the end result “worked out very well for both parties,” he said.
Genereux also noted that once ECFER took over the old Ecole du Sommet, insurance and liability concerns had come up with the land, since the school division is not an educational institution.
“It was a bit of a journey,” said Starosielski of the process involved in purchasing the land. But in the end, SPERD chose to take advantage of the opportunity and purchase the land. The division will now explore expanding parking at St. Paul Elementary, or creating an improved parent-drop off zone.
SPERD also wanted to be proactive about businesses not having the opportunity to purchase land so close to the elementary school, said Starosielski.
The land in question is located next to the St. Paul Elementary School, and some of the land is attached to the current elementary playground, and is already used by students on the north side of the school.