New Brunswick

'Definitely disturbing': Oromocto High School won't get $27M upgrade

Officials with Anglophone West School District were shocked to find out planned mid-life upgrades for Oromocto High School weren’t included in the province’s 2019 budget.

The provincial government didn’t include the school’s mid-life upgrade in the 2019 budget

About $27 million in upgrades had been planned for Oromocto High School. (CBC)

Officials with Anglophone West School District were shocked to find out planned mid-life upgrades for Oromocto High School weren't included in the province's 2019 budget. 

The Liberal government had announced in May that the school would have about $27-million to make the necessary upgrades. Design work was set to start in spring, but now that's not going to happen. 

Kimberley Douglass is the chair of the District Education Council in Anglophone District West, which asked the province to approve the project. 

"It was definitely disturbing," said Douglass. "The project was designed to renew and renovate just about every part of the building."

The process started more than a year ago, when the District Education Council had done an assessment for the school. That assessment found the high school needed a lot of work. They put it on a list of requests to the provincial government and it was approved. 

Kimberley Douglass, chair of the Anglophone West School District, says she was disturbed that there was no consultation before a decision was made about Oromocto High School. (Gary Moore/CBC)

But the new Progressive Conservative government didn't have it in its 2019 budget.  

"Oromocto High School is an aging building but still at a point where repairs can keep it going for another 30 or so years for us," said Douglass. 

"The classrooms need to be brought into 2020 standards and all of the labs and they need a new gym. They've been operating with the one they have and they need another one."

The school was built in 1965 and has more than 1,000 students.

'Deferring costs'

Kelly Cormier, acting director of communications for the Department of Education and Early Childhood, said the project would be reevaluated during the 2020-21 budget process.

"Unfortunately, at this point, we do not have the resources to fund all projects," said Cormier in an emailed statement.

Douglass said she didn't hear anything from Education Minister Dominic Cardy or anyone else in the department leading up to the budget announcement and has yet to hear from anyone since the announcement was made.

The school was built in 1965 and has more than 1,000 students. (CBC)

"Removing a project was particularly upsetting for us that there was no consultation on that," said Douglass.

Douglass said that even if the project isn't approved, it's still going to cost the province.

"I hope that they have another look at this and realize that the $27-million is actually deferring costs that are going to come," said Douglass. 

"We have to put the money into the building one way or another. So if they don't do it now in this project then there are things that are going to have to be done a little bits at a time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

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