Province approves $17 million in funding for new Drayton school, child care centre

DRAYTON – The province has approved $17.3 million in funding for a new elementary school and child care centre here.

Perth-Wellington MPP Matthew Rae announced funding for the Catholic school, which will accommodate 222 students and 64 childcare spaces, on May 31 at the PMD Arena in Drayton.

The school is expected to open in 2026 and will serve students from Mapleton and Minto. 

“As our communities grow, I am focused on working with our local school boards and municipalities to secure generational investments like this one today,” Rae said.

He thanked education minister Stephen Lecce, Mapleton Mayor Gregg Davidson, Mapleton council and staff, and the Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) “for making this day a reality.”

Rae said plans for the new school, “the first built in our riding in many years,” should set an example for the rest of the province about what can be achieved when different levels of government and school boards work cooperatively. 

Lecce told a small crowd at the announcement the government is “proud to deliver a new, state-of-the-art elementary school and child care centre for Drayton families,” along with “increasing funding” and “staffing.”

“We’re proud to work with agricultural communities across Ontario, and invest in these communities,” he said. 

Education minister Stephen Lecce at the announcement of funding for a new Catholic elementary school in Drayton on May 31. Photo by Robin George

Lecce called Rae a “strong champion for this project and your community,” and said the funding would not have been granted without his “relentless advocacy.” 

The new kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school was the WCDSB’s top priority when it submitted three requests for capital funding to the Ministry of Education last fall.

At that time, the plan included 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, and Wellington County officials have highlighted Mapleton as the priority for new licensed child care spaces as it currently has none.

Davidson, who said there are about 1,000 children under five years old in Mapleton, threw his hands into the air and cheered when he stepped up to the podium during the announcement. 

“This is exciting stuff,” he exclaimed. “I’ve got butterflies – this is fantastic.” 

He added, “For many years local families have struggled to find adequate child care for their children. That child care drought is now over … Additionally, we are getting a brand-new school to support our growing community.” 

He called the funding a “wonderful gift” for the township’s 25th anniversary. 

The application for the child care centre was jointly submitted by the school board and the County of Wellington.

County Warden Andy Lennox 
stated, “By forming strong partnerships, we strengthen our community and invest in the future of our children.

“This future child care and learning centre will help support the parents and caregivers of 64 children so they are able to participate in the labour force or pursue educational activities.” 

He called the new school a step towards meeting the needs of county families, noting that Mapleton has the largest land mass of all municipalities in the county. 

WCDSB associate director Tracy McLennan described the moment as “particularly special” for her, as she grew up in Palmerston and went to school with students from Drayton. 

“I remember the shared experiences and the unwavering support of our close-knit communities,” she said. 

The board is grateful to the province for the funding, she added.

“This process has been many years in the making,” McLennan stated, recognizing the work of Rae, WCDSB staff, the county, Mapleton officials “and of course the many families who have been advocating for education opportunities within this region.”

For Davidson, the new facility “has been a long time coming.

“In a couple of years, this field will be a place where children will come with their families in the most critical years of their lives, to be welcomed and supported as they grow,” he stated.

Last fall, the Wellington Catholic District School Board requested Ministry of Education funding to build an elementary school and childcare centre in Drayton. The facility will include space for 222 pupils and 64 child care spots. Image from WCDSB Nov. 6 agenda