Prairiedale talks to begin on Feb. 4

Talks on the potential closure, renovation or amalgamation of Prairiedale Elementary School begin on Feb. 4, 2013

Talks on the potential closure, renovation or amalgamation of Prairiedale Elementary School will begin on Feb. 4, 2013, the Nechako Lakes District School Board announced last week.

A location has yet to be determined, but public consultations will last for at least 60 days, the board said at a Nov. 19 meeting in Vanderhoof.

Before talks begin, the board is directing senior staff to produce an updated engineering report on the structural integrity of Prairiedale School, said Chair Rosalie Nichiporuk.

“It will be the first thing anybody needs to make any plans or decisions,” she said.

The board has known about the school’s deteriorating condition for about eight to 10 years.

A 2008 engineering report on Prairiedale’s structural integrity revealed numerous problems, including drainage and foundation issues.

Facing a $3.5-million budget shortfall at the time, the Nechako Lakes School District 91 chose to invest in building maintenance rather than major repairs, explained Nichiporuk.

In October 2012, the PAC appointed the Save Prairiedale Committee, a group of parents and former students who are passionate about keeping the elementary school operational.

The committee is concerned that the school may be closed for financial reasons.

“Here’s the truth of the matter: if the school was proved unfit for our children to go to, there’s not a single member of that PAC who would send their child there,” said Rae.

In the past, Rae said the board denied the PAC’s request for information on the school’s condition.

“We want to know what the school board knows about the state of the building,” said Rae.

“We just want an open, fair discussion and to understand why decisions are being made, what decisions are being based on and what the alternatives are.”

On Thursday, Nov. 22, Nichiporuk said the board would share the updated engineering report with the PAC once it was completed.

“That’s public information,” she said.

“As soon as we have it, they’re welcome to it too.”