New St. Pats wing includes 17 classrooms
St. Patrick Elementary School celebrated the completion of a $6.46-million expansion project that saw the more than 50-year-old Pincourt school receive 17 new classrooms and a “floating” music room, among other improvements. The inauguration came at the same time that the Lester B. Pearson School Board continues a major school change process that could see some of the English board’s underused schools closed down. LBPSB Chairman Suanne Stein Day said though the board is being forced by the government to further cut an already bare bones budget, continued growth in Vaudreuil-Soulanges communities leaves them little choice. “We have a responsibility to our students off-island to give them a place to go to school,” Stein Day said following the June 1 ribbon cutting ceremony that was attended by students, staff and elected officials including Pincourt mayor Yvon Cardinal. The mayor also received an impromptu and heartfelt personal thank you from a young student for the town’s part in fixing the sidewalks in front of the school. The multi-million dollar expansion was first approved by the Quebec government in 2013. The school that was built in 1962-63 for a maximum 278 students, currently serves 354 students. The addition of the new wing means St. Pats, which can now accept 624 elementary and kindergarten students, has room for more. “We will have to look at utilizing the (new) space fully,” Stein Day said, adding that Westwood Jr. in Saint Lazare, and Westwood Sr. in Hudson are also not filled to capacity. Zoning changes that could redirect students to underused schools are a possible outcome of the major school change process.
The expansion project saw a 1,100-square meter wing added on to the original building. Within the wing are 17 new classrooms, a resource room that can be divided into smaller work areas, a new library, and a second floor music studio that appears to float above a first floor multi-use area that serves ad the lunchtime cafeteria, the daycare area and as art and science rooms. The expansion also included space for 350 children in three specific daycare areas, an important designation since 60-percent of the school’s students use the daycare services. In addition, the staff parking lot was extended to include an additional 22 parking spaces for a total of 50 spots. Grade 4 students and friends Luca Tamborriello, Adam Haddad and Massimo Paixao gave positive marks to the new cafeteria, which they say is “so giant”. Other additions lauded by the boys included smart boards in the new classrooms and a refurbished floor in the old gymnasium. Not as appreciated by the 10-year-olds were automatically flushing toilets in the new wing. “I don’t like those. They flush even when you’re not near them,” Haddad said. The English school board serves close to 21,000 students in its youth sector and more than 8,500 continuing education students. Despite the numbers, a continued decline in elementary and high school enrollments across the board’s territory, stretching west from Verdun to the Ontario border, has it facing many difficult decisions with the major school change that will take place over the coming months.