Closure of Duncan Primary draws little public comment

The proposed closure drew no discussion, apart from one question from trustee Elizabeth Croft regarding the projected costs

Cowichan Valley School District’s proposed closure of the former Duncan Primary School was reviewed at a public meeting March 31 where secretary-treasurer Jason Sandquist noted the school is no longer being used and that its closure would not impact area students.

The proposed closure drew no discussion, apart from one question from trustee Elizabeth Croft regarding the projected costs of rehabilitating the building.

Sandquist noted that future capital work on the building would cost an estimated $650,000, while annual operating costs for the heating, electrical and maintenance work to keep the empty building up to par are estimated at $23,000.

“The future decision will depend on whether or not it’s a surplus property they want to hold or whether they wish to dispose of it. That will come up later. This is a process that deals with the closure of the property,” Sandquist said, adding that he thinks it’s “very possible” the Board of Education will decide to sell the building, although this would also require approval from the B.C. Ministry of Education.

The old school, located at 540 Cairnsmore St., was constructed in 1925. In 1992 SD79’s alternate education program moved into the building and were situated there until September of last year when they moved across the street to their current Duncan Elementary School location. Sandquist noted that enrolment in the central zone of the district where the former Duncan Primary School is located is not expected to grow much in the next five years and also said that there is capacity in nearby schools to accommodate any student population growth that occurs.

Duncan Primary School’s building is listed as a .44 rating under the Facility Condition Index, a Ministry of Education assessment that means it is in “poorish condition.”

The closure was first brought up at a Jan. 28 public meeting. The public consultation period ended April 5 and the earliest date for a final decision on going ahead with a closure is May 3 at SD79’s open board meeting.

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