By Ron Giofu
The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) is continuing to pursue a new high school for Amherstburg but it will be a while before a shovel hits the ground.
The public board is looking at obtaining funding from the provincial government for a new high school in Amherstburg to replace the current General Amherst High School and Western Secondary School. The GECDSB passed a motion last October to create a business case to combine the two high schools into a dual campus facility on land that is suitable to the public board and the town of Amherstburg.
The motion, made by Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair, calls for both General Amherst High School and Western Secondary School to “function as individual and distinct schools” in a new building.
“The board has submitted an application for funding,” said LeClair. “New announcements have not yet made.”
While a new $25-million school is currently under construction in Leamington and $44 million in provincial funding for a new JK-12 school in Kingsville was announced in April, Amherstburg could have to wait for any progress on a new school here.
“Both Kingsville and Leamington took several rounds of funding before being approved so we are still awaiting a decision,” said LeClair.
Scott Scantlebury, public relations offer with the Greater Essex County District School Board, confirmed a new public high school in Amherstburg is on the board’s capital priorities list. Scantlebury said the board submits two to five capital projects per year to the Ministry of Education for funding with a new school for Amherstburg being one of the four projects asked for when trustees approved capital projects at a board meeting June 21.
The four projects – and the business cases for them – were submitted to the province with Amherstburg being listed as the number one priority, Scantlebury indicated.
Last October’s motion came during a lengthy meeting at the St. Clair College Sportsplex where Western Secondary School was spared closure but Harrow District High School wasn’t. The board began working on LeClair’s motion to combine General Amherst and Western at one new building thereafter.
Scantlebury said the process sees the board go after the funding first, before any location for the new school is finalized.
“Once the funding for the project is announced, then we begin the process for site selection,” said Scantlebury. “Once a site is selected, the design phase begins.”
After a design is approved, the project would then go to tender.
“It’s a lengthy process,” said Scantlebury.