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Work on Saltfleet school expansion set to begin by May

New wing will be outfitted with latest technology, principal says

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

It’s a bit behind schedule, but the long-awaited expansion at Saltfleet District High School will go out to tender next month.

Dan Del Bianco, senior facilities officer for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, said work on the 10-classroom addition will begin in April or May and be completed by January.

The board initially set the fall of this year as the target opening date when the Ministry of Education announced it would cover the $5.4-million bill in January of last year.

The two-story expansion will include some other upgrades at the Highland Road West school, including replacement of the football field’s bleachers.

“It’s the process of the architect, receiving approvals from the ministry, approvals from the city, timing the scope of work, the schematic designs, the issuing the tenders,” Del Bianco said of the length of time it’s taken to get to this point.

The new wing will replace most of Saltfleet’s existing nine portables and boost its capacity by 210 seats, to 1,160 – or about 20 shy of present enrolment.

But Del Bianco said the school can go 15 per cent over capacity by scheduling lunches, classes and spares to maximize classroom use.

He said staff will continue to monitor growth trends in the area and space has been set aside for a potential portapak, or wing of portable classrooms, to be attached to the school if needed in the future.

But he said there may be other options given the board’s goal of high schools of about 1,250 students, the number that allows a breadth of programs “to all students whenever they want them, however they want them.”

“We can look at boundary changes to redirect some new growth to other schools. We can take a look at, potentially way down the road, another high school if the demand is there and you can justify it,” Del Bianco said.

“There are other alternatives as opposed to just continuously adding onto one facility.”

Saltfleet principal Kevin Graham said he’s excited about the addition, which will be outfitted with the latest features, like integrated sound, wireless Internet, data drops, whiteboards and technology-mounted projectors.

He said that will keep Saltfleet as the top-notch school it’s been since it opened its doors in 1996.

“Everything will be under one roof,” Graham said, with the lone exception programs like horticulture or construction that are better taught in a portable.

“To create a standard within our school of what a 21st-Century learning environment could look like is exciting.”

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