Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks on the new joint-use elementary school in the Westheath neighborhood on South Hill.
A sod-turning ceremony was held Tuesday for the 110,000 square foot Prekindergarten to Grade 8 school, which was first announced back in 2018. The Government of Saskatchewan is investing nearly $69 million dollars in the project, which is a consolidation of Sacred Heart, St. Mary's, Empire, and Westmount elementary schools from across both Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) and Prairie South School Division (PSSD).
When the site was first selected back in 2020, the original cost was $50 million. An additional $19 million investment was announced to ensure the project is protected against inflationary costs and supply chain pressures.
Education Minister Dustin Duncan joined Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence, Elder Shirley Wolfe Keller, as well as students, staff and representatives from both divisions at the sod-turning event.
"We've done joint-use schools between the public and Catholic school divisions in other communities," commented Duncan. "We have a lot of experience in working with the school divisions to just help to bring those agreements that need to be in place to ensure that we have a timely construction schedule, so that there's the ability for when the project is complete, for the school divisions to move in their staff and students."
The new joint-use school, which is anticipated to be completed in 2025, will accommodate 900 students and will also include a regulated child care facility with capacity for 51 children.
"It will really enhance the neighborhood, help it grow," said Lawrence. "When you talk to some of the companies around town and how much they're going expand, like the pork plant with another 300 families working there, we have to make sure we have a new school so we can fit everybody in. This is the perfect place to get it built."
HTCSD Board Chair Joann Blazieko noted that while this is the first joint-use school in Moose Jaw, Holy Trinity does have a joint-use school together with the Chinook School Division in Swift Current that has been working very well.
"We share certain services such as the heating system, the air conditioning, we have one janitor, we share the library. I think it will be a great opportunity. We're able to do tournaments together because both sides will have their own gym. I think it's an excellent venture."
Blazieko was quick to praise the location chosen for the new Moose Jaw school.
"I think it's wonderful. We were in consultation with the community and this was picked as the best site for safety and a number of other reasons and I think it will be great in the future if we have to add on to the school."
Both sides of the facility will include adaptable state-of-the-art learning environments, separate gymnasiums, and a shared community resource space. The facility will also include learning stairs, which offers a formal and informal area for gathering, teaching, socializing, and performing in a flexible, amphitheater-style environment.
PSSD Board Chair Giselle Wilson says it's exciting anytime kids can have a new school to come into.
"The buildings that we have in Prairie South are getting to the end of their life and they deserve a new school. The City of Moose Jaw deserves this new school. I think this is the perfect location. I think that there's lots of growth in the City of Moose Jaw right here. It has lots of room for us to grow the school if we need to and it's a really great area of the city."
The construction tender for the project was awarded to Graham Construction, which originated in Moose Jaw.