In a major win for the community of Stewart Valley, the Chinook Board of Education voted to approve the submission of an application to rebuild Stewart Valley School to the provincial government.
The vote was placed at a Special Meeting held on January 23 and is a significant first step.
Chinook Board Chair, Kim Pridmore, explained that the decision comes after months of gathering information and evaluating their options.
“It's been obviously several months since the fire occurred and we tried to gather everything we possibly could,” she elaborated. “So, that ranges from insurance information, some conversations with the ministry to kind of get their take on a project of this nature, and we wanted to gather some potential enrollment information, so we had that to use as well.
“And then most recently we had a meeting with community members of Stewart Valley, and kind of had been accepting feedback from anyone all along but did get a few more letters following that meeting. So, yeah, we took all those things into account when we came to our final decision.”
The devastating fire, which took place back in August, was a substantial loss for the small community and the Chinook School Division alike as many teachers and students found themselves displaced.
Pridmore added that while this is only the first step in a long process, the board has no reason to believe that the request will be denied.
“We have no reason to believe it won't be approved,” she stated. “We have insurance coverage that we believe should cover a rebuild of a similar size and type of facility. So, we're fairly confident that if the insurance coverage will take care of the rebuild, that the ministry will likely support our request.”
The insurance will cover replacing the existing footprint for “like, kind, and quality” and required code upgrades.
The Ministry of Education will have the final say on the size and specifics of the rebuild, to factor in enrollment numbers and utilization of space.
Specifications for the rebuild will be determined using projected enrollment, which is expected to rise slightly in upcoming years.
The board is optimistic that the project will be completed in August of 2024, however, the timeline is dependent on SaskBuilds tendering process as well as approvals within the Ministry of Education.