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What to do with extra space at ECS?

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What to do with an additional 16,000 square feet of space at the Estevan Comprehensive School is one question that will be facing the board of education for the South East Cornerstone Public School Division when they meet again in August.

The space was freed up for other uses with the departure of the Southeast Regional College, which has now taken up residency in the new Saskatchewan Energy Training Institute (SETI) building just down the road.

“We will engage the school and its staff and then the board will give it some serious consideration this fall,” said Cornerstone's director of education Marc Casavant.

“The discussion will begin with this current board and will probably continue with the newly-elected board after the October general election,” Casavant said.

The director then added that the dilemma of having additional space in a few other schools in the public division is something that will be addressed overall once the trustees reconvene, because “it's an issue all over the division, not just in Estevan. They'll have to develop an understanding and provide an overview of what has to happen if we move students in there.”

Casavant said Cornerstone was not caught off guard by the college's decision to move all programs over to the energy training site. “We fully expected they would be moving out,” he said.

The regional college moved into the 16,000 square feet of  available renovated space at the Comp 14 years ago, making it a blended educational institution for both high school and post-secondary programming.

The student population at ECS has not increased beyond the traditional 840 to 880 mark in the past 10 years, even with a major general population boom in the past three years, so the prospect of filling the gap with 100 or more additional students doesn't appear to be an option.

Casavant said the regional college is currently bound under a one-year contract that expires at the end of December of this year, so would be responsible for meeting the conditions of that contract up to that point even though the college's interim CEO Jody Holzmiller noted that the transition to the new building will be completed by the end of August.

“There has been some talk about putting in a pretty large daycare centre, but again, that would be something that the board will decide,” said Casavant.

The idea of a daycare centre is something that also appears to appeal to ECS principal Mike Little. He said that was one of the first things he began to think about once it was learned that the college was moving out.

Casavant said there are other options but the idea of becoming a landlord for some project or business that didn't have an educational component might be of lesser interest to the trustees.

“The board will have to look at it and decide what they want to do with the space. Will they want to put high school students in there, use the space for more programs, will they want some type of community programming or will they want to create an opportunity for a lease arrangement with some business? It will be an interesting discussion, I'm sure,” Casavant said in conclusion.

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