Students currently attending St. Francis de Sales and St. James the Greater Catholic elementary schools will soon be going to a brand new school.
At a meeting of Smiths Falls town council’s Committee of the Whole May 23, councillors were informed of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario’s plans to build a new school on the site of the current St. Luke’s High School on Ross Street.
“Construction of the new facility will commence now,” reported town Senior Planner Niki Dwyer, who added that town staff have no objections to the plan. “The existing school on that site will be demolished next summer.”
St. Luke’s High School occupies a building erected 57 years ago at 4 Ross St., which was formerly the site of the original St. James the Greater Elementary School. The new school will accommodate over 400 junior kindergarten to grade 8 students currently attending St. Francis and St. James. Under current arrangements, grades JK to 3 attend St. James, while Grades 4 to 8 go to St. Francis. Staff’s report to council indicated that the new school could cost up to $12 million.
The separate board plans to relocate the St. Luke’s High School students to the existing St. James the Greater building. St. Francis de Sales, on Elmsley Street, will be “repurposed or disposed of in the future,” said Dwyer. Plans to move students out of St. Francis are motivated partly by the school’s lack of recreational facilities (the building is surrounded by asphalt) and the lack of on-site parking.
“All in all we think this is a great opportunity,” commented Dwyer. “We’re happy to see this project proceed as planned.”
Mayor Shawn Pankow said the school board’s plan is “overall, very progressive for our community.”