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(Posted 7:30 a.m., Dec. 6)
Work begins on new public elementary school in Avalon

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa District School Board supporters living in the South Orléans community of Avalon can finally see a light at the end of their over-crowded tunnel as construction has begun on a new elementary school in the area.

Avalon Public School has been operating over capacity almost since it first opened in 2008. The school was designed to accommodate roughly 520 students. The current enrollment is over 850 students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, requiring 17 portable classrooms to house them all.

The new school is being built on a 7.6 acre site at the corner of Portobello Boulevard and Stormwind Avenue just south of Brian Coburn Blvd. The facility will accommodate 674 students from JK to Grade 8.

Once the new school opens, Grades 7 and 8 will be phased out at Avalon Public.

Although a name has not yet been chosen for the new school, construction will be completed in time to accept students next fall. That’s great news to parents at Avalon Public School who have been fighting for a second public school in the area since 2011.

The school council lead the fight along with former school board trustee John Shea who doggedly lobbied his colleagues for two years before finally convincing them to place the new school at the top of their priority list in 2013.

Even then, the board played a fast one on him by dropping the new school down to seventh on its revised 2013 list, which was eventually submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Fortunately for the parents, former Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely was working behind the scenes at Queen’s Park making a case for the new school with then Minister of Education Liz Sandals.

When the capital funding grants were announced in March 2014, a new school in Avalon was listed among the approved projects to the tune of $12.5 million.

The hope at the time was that the school would be built by September 2015, but delays pushed construction back a year further adding to the parents’ frustrations.

Those earlier frustrations were all but forgotten about during a ground breaking ceremony for the new school last month.

Among those in attendance was Orleans-Cumberland trustee Keith Penny who succeeded Shea on the board last fall.

“I think the residents will be quite happy with the (new) school and the programs,” said Penny, assuring that it should meet the needs of the community for several years to come.

The Ottawa District School Board is expected to announce a competition to find a name for the new school in the coming months. For now it’s simply referred to as Avalon II Elemen-tary School.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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