School board defends Cambridge school expansion
The Waterloo District School Board says it kept quiet about plans to demolish a home near Tait Public School in Cambridge so it could keep the purchase price down.
Some of the school's neighbours have voiced their concern after hearing of the board's plan to purchase and knock down the two-storey home on West River Road to make way for an extended school driveway.
The driveway is needed for one or two extra school buses to access nearby Tait Street Public School, which is expected to see major growth in the coming months.
West River Road resident Jackie Salt told CBC News on Monday she was upset that the school board hadn't consulted with her and other neighbours about its plans.
Salt said she then rallied together about 40 of her neighbours and sent a petition to city hall. Salt added she would not have known of this project if she did not write directly to the school board asking for clarification.
"We just think that there are other solutions that the school board could try," Salt told CBC News. "We would like to work with them, and we wish they would have given us advanced notice."
But Lauren Manske, a senior planner with the school board, told The Morning Edition on Tuesday that the board had planned to tell residents, but the time wasn't right.
"As soon as someone knows the board is interested in purchasing a property, there's a pretty good chance that others might become interested in making a buck," she said.
"The reason we hadn't notified Mrs. Salt before she found out was... we actually hadn't closed on the property yet. So we were waiting to advise anybody of the purchase until we had actually closed the deal."
District preparing for growth
Manske said Tait Street Public School expects 200 new students by 2014 because of the implementation of all-day kindergarten and a redrawing of school boundaries.
The school is also located on a dead-end road, which makes it difficult for buses to pick up and drop off students.
"We certainly do not have the capacity to be able to load and unload in the location we have been with any more than the one bus we have been using today," she said.
The school is also located near steep inclines, which aren't conducive to accommodating larger buses, Manske said.
The school board has not released information on how much this project will cost. Salt estimated that the price of the home, demolition and other expenses will bring the cost to around $1 million.
"That expenditure to accommodate one extra school bus does not make sense to us," said Salt.
But speaking Tuesday morning on The Morning Edition, Manske said the price was "significantly less than that."
The school board has not yet set a date for demolition of the home and construction of the new driveway.