School board unveils $90-million capital plan

Some cost estimates included in the Upper Grand District School Board’s (UGDSB) $90-million capital plan to make room for new full-day kindergarten students are “a stab in the dark, at best.”

That was the message Paul Scinocca, the board’s capital projects manager, relayed to about 40 Wellington County residents – mostly parents – at an information meeting on Oct. 19 at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus.

“I can tell you 100%: things will change from this plan,” Scinocca said.

The board has proposed a $90-million plan, to be completed by September of 2014 to accommodate about 2,200 new full-day kindergarten students.

Scinocca said some cost estimates for the board’s 53 projects – ranging from minor renovations and additional classrooms to new schools – are more accurate than others. Some are currently underway while others have already been completed.

The uncertainty surrounding other projects, Scinocca said, can be attributed to a number of factors, including the amount of future funding that comes from the province, as well as the board’s mandate to make changes as equitable as possibly throughout the board.

“[We’re] on tremendous deadlines that are almost impossible to meet,” Scinocca added.

He said the board will have to make decisions on each individual project along the way.

The province has dictated that full-day kindergarten will be implemented in all Ontario schools by the 2014-15 school year.

Funding sources for the UGDSB’s capital plan include:

– $8-million in proceeds from selling board properties;

– $27 million in regular new pupil places (NPP) funding from the Ministry of Education;

– $11 million in full-day kindergarten (FDK) funding already promised by the ministry.

The school board has requested an additional $37 million in FDK funding, but Scinocca said he suspects it may not receive that much, as the requests are getting bigger and the competition for funding becomes more fierce across the province.

That prompted one woman in the audience to ask if any schools or communities can or will fundraise to help cover capital costs.

Scinocca replied some communities have raised funds for items such as playgrounds, but not for capital projects.

“The responsibility to build schools rests with taxpayers and the provincial government, not parents – that’s been the philosophy,” Scinocca said.

Another woman asked if local schools or parent councils will be consulted about the changes at each school.

“In some cases, yes, and some cases, no,” Scinocca said, adding in many instances the board has no choice about the proposed projects.

Board trustee Bruce Schieck said after the Oct. 19 information meeting he has heard no questions or comments about the capital plan from residents in northern Wellington County.

“Basically, it’s a non-issue in the north,” Schieck said, noting there are no new schools or boundary reviews proposed in the area he represents (Mapleton, Minto and Wellington North).

Trustee Kathryn Cooper, who represents Erin and part of Guelph-Eramosa said she, too,  has heard very few questions or concerns from parents.

“This isn’t a big growth area at this time,” Cooper said specifically of Erin.

She added she is very excited the board will be able to offer spaces to new kindergarten students.

Gohn comments???

Centre Wellington

The biggest changes proposed in Centre Wellington Township are a boundary review for James McQueen Public School in Fergus, which cannot accommodate any portables, as well as a new public school somewhere in the township.

The boundary review is expected to take place next school year to prepare for future changes.

The new 19-room, 450-student school is to be built in time for the 2014-15 school year. The preliminary cost estimate is about $7.6-million.

“I honestly don’t know where it will go,” Scinocca said, adding UGDSB officials are starting now to look at possible locations for the new school. Once built, the new school would necessitate a boundary review.

There will be no capital projects at Elora Public School or John Black Public School in Fergus.

Other changes at Centre Wellington schools include:

– Salem: $950,000 to expand one existing classroom for a FDK room and to add two new classrooms (for the 2013-14 school year)

– Victoria Terrace: $575,00 to add one FDK room and minor interior renovations (completed this school year);

– Ponsonby: $400,000 to expand two existing classrooms (for 2012-13);

– J.D. Hogarth: $225,000 to convert the original lunchroom into a FDK room (2014-15); and

– James McQueen: $300,000 to renovate three existing classroom into two FDK rooms.


There are no capital changes proposed for Erin Public School.

At Brisbane, the board plans to spend about $100,000 to renovate one room into an FDK room (2012-13).

And at R.R. MacKay it proposes about $200,000 to renovate two existing classrooms into one FDK room and a seminar room (2014-15).


The board plans to spend about $300,000 at Eramosa Public School to renovate one existing classroom and part of a staff room into an FDK room (2014-15).

There are no capital plans for Rockwood Centennial school, which may come as a surprise to some considering the school is full now and the population of the village is expected to grow over the next several years.

“We don’t really have a case for a new school for Rockwood yet,” Scinocca said.

However, the long-term plan is to have two schools in Rockwood, he added, alluding to proposed new development in the village’s south end.

For the 2014-15 school year, the UGDSB has proposed a new $2.8-million “early learning centre” in Rockwood that will include a 2,400 square-foot play area and six classrooms for about 150 junior and senior kindergarten students.

Scinocca said he envisions the centre eventually being expanded in the future to a full-size elementary school.

He opined the proposal may be attractive to the province because that new school would be about half the cost of building one from scratch. However, he admitted the ministry doesn’t yet have early learning centres on its radar.

Dennis Cuomo, UGDSB’s planning manager, said the new Rockwood centre would not require a boundary review, but the board would host information meeting for affected parents.

If built, all kindergarten students would attend the centre and those in grades 1 to 8 would attend the township’s two existing schools.


There are no capital plans for Drayton Heights Public School.

Proposed projects at other Mapleton schools include:

– Alma: $250,000 to expand one existing classroom into an FDK room (2013-14);

– Centre Peel: $950,000 for renovations to expand one classroom into an FDK room and to add three classrooms (2014-15); and

– Maryborough: $300,000 to renovate two classrooms into one FDK room and a seminar room (2014-15).


Capital plans at Minto schools include $200,000 to renovate two classrooms into one FDK room and a seminar room at Minto-Clifford school (done this year).

At Palmerston school, the board proposes spending about $175,000 to expand one classroom into an FDK room (2012-13).


At Aberfoyle Public School the capital project will include $300,000 to renovate a classroom and corridor into an FDK room for the 2012-13 school year.

Wellington North

Proposed capital plans at Wellington North schools include:

– Arthur: $575,000 for renovations to expand one classroom into an FDK room and to add one new classroom (already completed);

– Kenilworth: $400,000 to expand one existing classroom into one FDK room (2014-15); and

– Victoria Cross: $175,000 to expand one classroom into an FDK room (already completed).

For more information on the UGDSB capital and boundary review plans visit