For sale: one Winnipeg high school, slightly used

Officials in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division are considering closing or amalgamating two junior high schools next fall.

Division considers closure or amalgamation for 2 more schools

The building that housed Silver Heights Collegiate is for sale, 50 years after it first opened its doors.

Silver Heights Collegiate amalgamated with Sturgeon Creek at the start of the 2007-2008 school year. Students from both schools now attend the renamed Sturgeon Heights in the former Sturgeon Creek building. 

Earlier this month, the St. James-Assiniboia School Division hired a realtor to sell the building and the property.

The neighbourhood is abuzz with ideas for the property, division Supt. Ron Weston told CBC News on Tuesday.

"We've had lots of interest from the community. Folks want to develop, put housing there or take the building over and do something else with it. It's a nice location," he said, adding that the neighbourhood could use more housing for seniors.

In what he called a "unique, first-time" arrangement with the provincial government, Weston said the division will be allowed to keep the profits from the sale of the building to reinvest into the newly renovated collegiate.

Renovations and additions to Sturgeon Creek Collegiate cost nearly $7 million.

Silver Heights is being heated and maintained at a minimum level while it's for sale.

Bids on the former school, located at 350 Lodge Ave., are being accepted until June. The building has an assessed value of $2,172,000, according to the city's website.

2 more schools on chopping block

Meanwhile, officials in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division are considering closing or amalgamating two junior high schools next fall.

Ness Middle School, at 3300 Ness Ave., and Hedges Middle School on Fairlane Avenue, are less than two kilometres apart in Winnipeg's far west.

Enrolment is declining among the schools' Grade 6 to 8 populations, Weston.

"Basically, these schools are below 50 per cent in their capacity, and we're taking a look at what are the possibilities," he said. "In the past, schools have closed, schools have amalgamated or nothing has happened — those are the three possibilities."

Sixteen schools in the division have closed already, Weston said.

"We're seeing a steady decline right across our school division, and it's happening in a number of school divisions," Weston said.

"By closing those buildings and amalgamating with other schools, it's allowed us to keep our tax rates within a reasonable level and also provide rich programming in large schools — it just makes a bit of a difference when you have a large student body, more staff."

Hedges Middle School has 15 teachers for about 189 students in the three grades. Ness Middle School has 306 students and 23 teachers.

The division is holding public meetings on the future of the schools before the board makes a decision. A third and final meeting is scheduled for April 16.