Board gets nod for new $26M replacement for Catholic Central

Ontario will be funding a new 850-student Catholic school in Windsor to address the student backlog and facility conditions at Catholic Central.
The province has announced funding for a replacement for Catholic Central. (Stacey JanzeréCBC)

Students and teachers celebrated Monday after learning the provincial government is building a new Catholic high school in Windsor.

Ontario will be funding a new 850-student school to replace the aging Catholic Central high school, which is bursting at the seems with students.

The school board will have access to $26-million in provincial funding for the project, slated to be built on the site of the old Windsor Arena and Water World, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board said.

Students first learned of the news at an assembly in the gymnasium. Former students who campaigned for the new school spoke to current students about the development at the event, which was attended by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and former mayor Eddie Francis. 

Former student, Jessica Helou worked on that campaign and was thrilled to be able to announce the new funding to students.

"It was amazing. We keep talking about imagining the possibilities and now it's a reality," she said. "I feel like I'm going to wake up and it's not really going to happen. It's something I worked for all last year and, this year, it's just actually happening."

Teachers are also excited about getting into a new school. Duke Culumovic has taught at Catholic Central high school for 28 years. 

"One of the things our kids need are advocates and this, to them, is validating," Culumovic said. "They have advocates that are saying 'we want the best for you and we are going to do everything we can for you to get the best opportunity.'"

The replacement for Catholic Central is one of seven new schools the province is committing to build, according to the school board.

The Catholic school board lobbied the province seven times in the past seven years to secure the funding for a new school in Windsor. 

The school board said it will soon begin the tender process to find a project manager that will oversee the construction of the new school. 

The former Windsor Water World park may sit next to a new Catholic Central. Original plans called for it to be demolished, but Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said it may stay. (Greg Layson/CBC)

A new public school has also been promised in Amherstburg to accommodate the consolidation of General Amherst high school and Western Secondary School.