20 new schools open in Saskatchewan

The first day of school year for many Saskatchewan students also marks the opening day of 18 new P3 schools across the province—the largest multi-school build in the province's history.

More than 11,000 students spend first day in brand-new schools

Blair Pisio took this photo of his three kids in front of their new school, St. Kateri Tekakwitha School. (Photo by Blair Pisio)

The first day of the school year for many Saskatchewan students coincided with 20 new P3 schools opening across the province. It's the single largest school construction project in the province's history.

More than 11,000 students converged on 18 schools built on joint-use sites across the province. Those include four locations in Saskatoon, three in Regina and one each in Martensville and Warman.

In Regina, Connaught School and Scott Collegiate held grand re-openings with the old schools relocating into brand new buildings. 

Julia Vincent, a Grade 5 student at St. Kateri Tekawitha, recently moved to Saskatoon with her family. She's new to the community but she joins the entire student population in starting fresh at a new school.

"It's a really really beautiful school and it's really new," said Vincent.

30-year contract governs decor, use of new schools

Joint-use schools consist of a public and Catholic school located in the same building, with each school operated by its own school division. Each site features a community daycare between the Catholic and public facilities.

"We were so excited to put her in a new school, because everybody's new here," said Shawna Vincent, whose daughter began Grade 5 at St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Saskatoon. "It was new for everybody so it really helped the transition for her." (CBC News)

For the first time, each of the 20 new schools opening today was built under a public-private partnership, commonly known as the P3 model.

Over the next 30 years, Saskatchewan taxpayers will pay $635 million for the schools, which covers both their construction and ongoing maintenance, with schools intended to be kept in "like new" condition over the duration of the contract.

No thumbtacks or tape will be used on the walls of the new schools. Teachers need permission before any holes can go in walls and they can't open the windows until the ventilation system has run for the first year.

Chloe Dingwall, who is in Grade 4 at St. Kateri Tekakwitha, said she was "very excited" to be at the new building.

"The teachers are very nice," Dingwall said. "It's very, very shiny and the furniture is actually brand new to the school."

Grade 4 student Chloe Dingwall, right, said she liked the furniture in her new school, which includes rocking chairs specifically designed for children who need to move while they're learning. (CBC News)

Almost all the students at St. Kateri and Chief Whitecap used to be bused across a freeway to older schools. Parents in Stonebridge expressed how pleased they were to have schools in the neighbourhood, which now houses close to 12,000 people. 

"You don't have that long commute so it does give them a little more independence as they grow older. Which, I love that feeling," said Shawna Vincent, Julia's mother.

"I feel like it's a safe community where everybody's talking to each other and communicating."

New Saskatoon Public Schools:

Sylvia Fedoruk School (Evergreen)
Ernest Lindner School (Hampton Village)
Colette Bourgonje School (Rosewood)
Chief Whitecap School (Stonebridge)

New Saskatoon Catholic Schools:

St. Nicholas Catholic School (Evergreen)
St. Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic School (Hampton Village)
St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic School (Rosewood)
St. Kateri Tekakwitha School (Stonebridge)

In Regina, three new joint schools in Harbour Landing, Greens on Gardiner and Rosewood Park welcomed students for the first time on Tuesday.

New Regina Public Schools:

École Harbour Landing School (Harbour Landing)
École Wascana Plains School (Greens on Gardiner) 
Plainsview School (Rosewood Park)

New Regina Catholic Schools:

St. Kateri Tekakwitha School (Harbour Landing)
St. Elizabeth School (Greens on Gardiner) 
St. Nicholas (Rosewood Park)

Jill Taylor's son was one of the many new students at St. Kateri Tekakwitha School. (Photo by Jill Taylor.)

The names for the new schools were chosen after a Regina-wide "Name Your School" contest which received several hundred submissions.

Martensville is home to a brand new joint-use school which includes:

  • Lake Vista Public School
  • École Holy Mary Catholic School

A joint use school in Warman also opened which houses:

  • Traditions Elementary School
  • Holy Trinity Catholic School

With files from Jennifer Quesnel