The Morrin community gathered for a very special and long awaited purpose June 17 as dignitaries and residents broke ground on the new Morrin School on the construction site immediately adjacent the existing school.
Prairie Land Public School Division (PLPSD) Deputy Superintendent Steve Nielsen stated the rough budget for the new facility is in the $10 million range, very similar to what the division's newest school recently cost in Delia.
Nielsen stated that the new Morrin School will be very similar in scope to Delia with almost exactly the same capacity.
While the two facilities are very similar in scope, they will be slightly different in appearance: Delia is rectangular while Morrin will be more “L” shaped. The deputy superintendent stated this is due to the geography of the land available for the new schools.
He confirmed the same general contractor, Shunda Consulting and Construction Management, is handling the Morrin project as the Delia project. Nielsen stated PLPSD is very happy with Shunda’s work and is expecting more of the same in Morrin.
Along with the official groundbreaking has come the rains, and Nielsen confirmed the project is off to a slow start because of weather difficulties. He confirmed rain has held up work on the school’s foundation; the new Morrin School will have a concrete foundation for long-term stability.
The delay has amounted to a couple of weeks, he noted, but acknowledged that, being located in a farming community, the school division knows how important rain is to the agricultural community right now.
The deputy superintendent noted that the biggest contributor to the new Morrin School project has been the Friends of Morrin School group, which conducted its own fundraising campaign which raised just under $700,000 for the school.
He stated those funds will go towards increasing the size of the new gymnasium and library. Nielsen also noted that fundraising was done during the COVID-19 pandemic which makes it “...absolutely amazing.”
As for the old facility, Nielsen stated different parts of it will have different fates. The old gymnasium, which still sits on a solid foundation, will be repurposed as a CTS building that will feature a shop/trades spot plus office space and a workout facility for the community’s use. He added that the Friends of Morrin school will handle the CTS facility when it’s ready.
The rest of the old school structure will have to come down because of its weakened foundation stated Nielsen.
Being an alumni himself of Morrin School, Nielsen stated the new school’s bigger gymnasium will be nice to see, as the old school’s gym was smaller and had a lower ceiling which made it more difficult to play sports like volleyball.
Also, the community’s public library will also be part of the new school, and it will relocate from it’s current home in a small Main Street building.
The deputy superintendent added that the entire school construction project is estimated to be completed in one to 1.5 years which may or may not be affected by the ever-present supply chain problem.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review