GUELPH – The Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) is hoping to grow to include almost 800 additional pupils within Wellington County.
The board has submitted three requests for capital funding through the Ministry of Education’s Capital Priorities Program to:
- open a new school and childcare centre in Drayton;
- add grades 9 to 12 to St. Joseph in Fergus; and
- expand Sacred Heart in Rockwood.
Associate director and treasurer Tracy McLennan presented the requests during a WCDSB meeting on Nov. 6, along with a capital priorities report to trustees.
She said each funding proposal is very thorough, with detailed site plans and floor plans.
The board’s highest priority for funding is to build an elementary school and childcare centre in Drayton.
The proposed school would have space for up to 222 pupils, and the childcare centre would have up to 54 infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
There would be two full-day kindergarten classes with a maximum of 26 students each, seven regular classrooms with space for 23 students each, and one special education resource room for up to nine students.
There are currently no WCDSB schools in Mapleton or Minto, though the municipalities are included in the board’s service area.
McLennan said the board partnered with the County of Wellington to put forward the request for childcare spaces.
“The County of Wellington has prioritized Mapleton as the highest need for childcare,” McLennan said, as the township “currently has zero spaces.”
The second capital priority for the WCDSB is expanding St. Joseph Catholic School in Fergus to include Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.
The expansion would include building 21 classrooms for up to 249 additional students:
- 11 regular classrooms;
- three science labs;
- two music and arts rooms;
- four technical/vocational rooms; and
- one special education resource room.
McLennan said the Fergus expansion is meant to accommodate the current and projected “tremendous growth” in Centre Wellington and Wellington County at large.
“The proposed secondary school facility will provide students within Wellington County an opportunity to continue with the WCDSB closer to their home communities,” McLennan’s report states.
There are currently no WCDSB high schools in Wellington County – students within the Catholic board travel to Guelph for high school.
A high school in Fergus would reduce the number of pupils attending high school in Guelph, thus reducing the board’s reliance on portable classrooms.
The board’s third capital funding priority is an addition to Sacred Heart Catholic School in Rockwood.
The addition would include two regular classrooms and one kindergarten room, with a combined maximum capacity of 72 pupils.
This addition would eliminate the need for the three portables currently used at Sacred Heart.
McLennan said the school is currently at 120 per cent utilization, and the success of the school and the childcare centre on site is “a testament to those families in that community.”
McLennan said she is “hopeful the ministry will provide finding for the projects – or at least one of them.”
There is no definite date the school board will hear back about the capital funding requests, but McLennan said it will likely be in March.