Board narrows site search for new elementary school

Troy Shantz

A field of eight potential sites for a new French Immersion school in Sarnia has been narrowed to two frontrunners, the Catholic school board says.

“Transportation definitely plays a big part in where we choose to go,” said Amy Janssens, associate director of corporate services.

“Being beside other community partners like parks (and) Catholic churches is important to us as well. There’s not many properties where this is the case.”

Ontario has approved $17 million for the project, including $14.4 million for a French Immersion elementary school and $2.7 million for a pre-school, to be operated by London Bridge Child Care.

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board is searching for a piece of land of about eight acres for the school, which is projected to house 659 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, as well as six child-care rooms for up to 88 preschoolers.

Janssens said the board hopes to make a site announcement before the summer.

The new school is projected to open in 2021, a year later than the initially planned. Janssens said a deadline of next year is “no longer realistic.”

When the new school does open the 300 students at Sacred Heart elementary will move to Gregory A. Hogan, and Gregory Hogan students will move to the new school.

Sacred Heart will close. Built in 1948, the Lecaron Avenue school sits on a 3.2-acre site, which is too small to accommodate the new facility.

The board has said the larger school is needed to handle the expanding French Immersion program at Gregory Hogan. Located just off Cathcart Boulevard, the school has about 470 students and must use portable classrooms to house them all.