Elmdale Public School reopening delayed past Sept. 2020

Elmdale Public School renovations will be taking longer than expected and students won't get to return to the school until after Sept. 2020, according to the school board.

More than 500 students from the school have been getting bused more than six kilometres to Century Public School during renovations that were supposed to be completed by next school year.

However, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said the Ontario Ministry of Education did not provide an "Approval to Proceed" until last week, delaying the start of work until this month.

"We had expected it would take 14 months beginning in July of 2019, it's clear now that the school and the work will not be finished by September 2020," said Mike Carson, chief financial officer and superintendent of facilities for the OCDSB.

"We will be working with the contractor over the next couple of weeks to try to firm up a different schedule."

School board trustee Erica Braunovan said officials had been contacting the province regularly this summer.

In an emailed statement, a ministry spokesperson said it needed more time to approve the extra money needed for the project because the school board was over budget.

"The ministry remains committed to ensuring that capital projects meet the needs of the community and deliver good value for the Ontario taxpayers," it said.

Frustration over delay

Several parents expressed frustration at the delay and the lack of information from the school board at a meeting hosted by the school council on Wednesday evening.

"It just feels like the first time the school board has done something like this," said parent Christopher Watchorn.

"All conversation in here tonight was about communication, transparency, of which there has been zero all summer."

Watchorn has two children in Grade 5 and Grade 2. They both have to take the bus for 30 minutes each way, instead of walking to school. 

He said he's worried the long delays will disrupt the supportive, tight-knit culture of Elmdale.

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Jordan Clark, co-chair of the parent council, said parents are frustrated with the delay but hopeful for the completion of the project.

"While it is disruptive, it is something that I think parents were willing to do for the one year. The question remains what will happen with the delay if it goes into another half of a year or into a second full year," he said.

The renovation project will cost $13.57 million to build an addition to the school, add an elevator, remove asbestos and retrofit the heating and cooling system for the school.