Student move to new Great Lakes school delayed

A reconstructed Great Lakes Secondary on Murphy Road, seen here in an artist concept, is behind schedule and won’t be ready to accept students in September as planned. Sketch courtesy, Lambton Kent District School Board

Journal Staff

A refurbished Great Lakes high school on Murphy Road won’t be ready to accept students in September after all.

The Lambton Kent District School Board said the contractor, Jasper Construction Corp., has been unable to secure enough skilled tradespeople to keep the reconstruction project on schedule.

It’s not known when the work will be complete, and the board said it would work with staff, parents and students on a new transition plan this fall.

“We understand that this is not what the school community was expecting,” said education director Jim Costello, who likened such a large construction project to conducting a symphony.

“If there is one delay, it changes everyone’s timing.”

The $23.4-million rebuild of the former St. Clair Secondary on Murphy Road includes a new 550-seat auditorium, a refurbished library, native studies room, expanded cafeteria and other amenities.

The cost of the project has continued to rise from its original estimate of $16 million.

The board acknowledged in January the price tag had increased by $6 million because material prices and a difficulty getting enough skilled tradespeople on the job.

The total project cost, including a demolition phase completed last September, is estimated at $24.5 million.

In a move unpopular with many Sarnia residents, trustees voted 9-2 in May of 2016 to close SCITS, saying it would be more cost effective to keep the St. Clair building.

Students from SCITS and St. Clair were amalgamated as Great Lake Secondary, and have been taking classes on Wellington Street while the Murphy Road school is renovated.

Whenever the 1,000 students do move to their permanent home on Murphy, the historic SCITS building will be closed and sold.

“We will continue to work with the contractor to ensure the project moves forward as quickly as possible as we are looking forward to the next phase in the transition process,” Costello said.