P.E.I. principals 'thrilled' with expedited school upgrades

P.E.I.'s education minister released more details Wednesday regarding the province's plan to expand and improve three Island schools by the end of 2021, and two Island principals say they are thrilled about the news. 

'To have an actual timeline date is going to do a lot for our community and give a lot of hope and optimism'

The principal at Eliot River Elementary in Cornwall says the announcement is 'wonderful news.' (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

P.E.I.'s education minister released more details Wednesday about the province's plan to expand and improve three Island schools by the end of 2021, and two principals say they are thrilled with the news. 

Montague Consolidated, West Royalty Elementary and Eliot River Elementary were all due for work as part of existing capital projects.

But assistance from the federal government's new COVID-19 Resilience Stream infrastructure funding will speed up that process. 

"Very exciting time," said Education Minister Brad Trivers. "This means we can make more dollars go further."

'Beyond thrilled'

Trivers said the government had a previous plan to expand West Royalty Elementary. When it came time to crunch the numbers, though, the project was put on hold last November. 

'I'm very excited for the community as well,' says Brad Trivers. 'I know how much they want this project to move ahead.' (Kirk Pennell/CBC News)

"There is a planning committee that has members of the home and school and the administration, and the community as a whole," he said. "When they work hard on an expansion like this and it's put on hold you can imagine there's some disappointment."

But because the COVID-19 Resilience Stream expects all the projects to be completed by the end of 2021, Trivers said they had to go with a project where the design and planning was already done. That made West Royalty Elementary the ideal candidate. 

"We're beyond thrilled that we're going to get the expansion to our school," said Marilyn MacLean, the principal at West Royalty Elementary.

"Now we don't have to worry about space issues."

'Wonderful news for us'

MacLean said the West Royalty school has been overcrowded for the last several years, and finding room for students to work has proven difficult.   

"We're in need of an additional music room, additional gym space, breakout rooms," she said. "We struggle through the day in terms of trying to find a space for students." 

"It's huge for our school community, very excited." 

Terra Doucette says she is looking forward to having some of the school's concerns addressed. (Kirk Pennell/CBC News)

The principal at Eliot River Elementary in Cornwall is also excited about the impending improvements.

"It's wonderful news for us," said Terra Doucette. She hopes this project can tackle accessibility to washrooms. 

"We don't have any private washrooms right now for students that need personal care," she said. "For us to have the addition of having some washrooms that have private doorways will help us address those needs."

'Hope and optimism'

Doucette said they are also looking for a multipurpose room so the gym no longer needs to be shut down for guest presentations or Christmas concert rehearsals. 

And with a completion deadline for the end of next year, Doucette is eager for the work to begin. 

"It's exciting," she said. "I think to have an actual timeline date is going to do a lot for our community and give a lot of hope and optimism." 

More from CBC P.E.I.


With files from Nancy Russell


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