West Highlands replacement date by year's end?

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Amherst residents should hear before the end of the year when a new school to replacing aging West Highlands Elementary will be built.
"I expect we should know something by the end of the year, that's when we should have a construction schedule," Cumberland North MLA Ernest Fage said Thursday.
The campaign to replace the nearly century-old school got a boost last week when the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board moved the facility to the top of its priority list.
Fage is unsure what kind of timeline is ahead for replacing the school that was built in 1912, but figures it should not have to wait as long as other additions since it was already slated for a major renovation starting next year.
"There's already $3 million set aside for renovating that school beginning in 2009, so this would be an upgrade for that," Fage said. "I can't see it taking that long."
When the board submitted its priority list, board operational services director Herb Steeves said the school scored the highest in the condition of the building, its capacity, whether core programs can be offered there and other efficiencies.
West Highlands garnered a lot of headlines last year when parents expressed concern with the presence of mould and possible asbestos in the building.
The board moved to remove the mould from the basement area of the building while the presence of asbestos in building material was not substantiated.
Last summer, the board worked with the Department of Environment and Labour, C.J. MacLellan & Associates and Maritime Testing to look at the roof structure, high humidity levels in the basement and the presence of asbestos.
The concerns of parents and staff got a boost when Education Department deputy minister Dennis Cochrane toured the facility in 2007 and suggested money would be better spent on a new building as opposed to moving forward with renovations.


Organizations: Central Regional School Board, Department of Environment and Labour, C.J. MacLellan & Associates Maritime Testing Education Department

Geographic location: Chignecto

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