Recent History – 2004-2006
By Brad Lyon, January 23, 2006
A $2.6 million modular community school is being considered as a replacement for the current structure housing Pouce Coupe Elementary School. School District 59 trustees voted to consider the funding possibilities for a new Pouce Coupe school, after a presentation from Operations Manager Sam Barber.
At last week’s monthly meeting, Barber told trustees that the current estimate by the Ministry of Education to rebuild the school is $5.7 million. But the school district’s estimate is for a smaller structure, housing 110 students, kindergarten to grade 7, in a six-classroom setup. There would also be a larger gym and a community hall component, similar to the formats adopted at Tate Creek and MacLeod schools.
“But we are suggesting we can put together a … project that would see a 110 FTE school, complete with community hall, larger gymnasium, sitting on a foundation, no site development and no demolition of the existing building for approximately $2.6 million,” Barber said.
But the overall plan would be similar to that used at Central Middle School in Dawson Creek. “The model we’ve been looking at is very similar to the model used at Central Middle School in the mid-90s,” Barber told the trustees, stressing that when the work was done, you would be hard-pressed to realize that the school was a modular structure.
“We’re not talking a camp-type structure at all. Don Titus Elementary (in Chetwynd) is the school this one will most look like. You won’t be able to tell, just like you can’t tell Central Middle School is a modular constructed building.”
The future of Pouce Coupe elementary has been bandied about for the past few years. Two years ago, after provincial inspections, the school was the province’s number one priority for replacement. But when the province considered the number of available seats in Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe was taken off the replacement list. In late 2005, SD 59 trustees voted to end the use of the current building by Sept. 2007, with a course of action determined in 2006.
“So, one option was to close the school in Pouce, and bus all the students to Dawson Creek,” Barber told the trustees.But that’s not a preferred option for the school district, or the Village of Pouce Coupe. Barber said that the school district and the Village have been in active negotiations since just after Christmas.
“And it appears now that there is a very strong willingness on the part of the Village of Pouce (Coupe) to partner with the school district to replace the Pouce school,” Barber said. Barber said that the current estimated cost for constructing the academic component of the school would be about $125 a square foot, while the gym would be about $200 per square foot. “We expect if this project is going to proceed, it’s going to proceed very quickly,” Barber said.