SPRINGHILL – Money for the gymnasium expansion at Springhill High School is in the budget and $100,000 has been spent on the design phase, but the Nova Scotia Treasury Board is telling the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board to go back to the drawing board and plan for some cheaper renovations instead.
Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie is challenging the head of the Treasury Board, Frank Corbett, this week to uphold the expansion plan after learning the school steering team was given orders by the treasury board to cancel the expansion and focus on renovations instead after tenders for the $1.9 million project came in $300,000 over budget.
“One of the first things I worked on when I got in was to get the money – $1.9 million – to expand the gymnasium,” said Baillie. “That money is in the budget and already allocated. Last week we learn the government intends to downgrade the expansion to a renovation of the existing gym at the existing size. There’s no storage space like we need. There’s no bleacher space like we need.”
Baillie said he wants the province to keep its word and continue with the expansion, saying the money already spent on the project would offset any illusion a renovation project would save money.
“It makes no sense, financially, to write off the design costs already incurred.” - Jamie Baillie, Cumberland South MLA
“It won’t save any money because the school board has already spent the money on the design work. That money will now be wasted when they have to go back to the drawing board to design a renovation,” Baillie said. “…It makes no sense, financially, to write off the design costs already incurred.”
Of particular frustration for the MLA is a recent study on Springhill that noted the community’s need for an expanded gymnasium. A third-phase construction project scheduled for the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre was a gymnasium, but the project was put on hold after it was announced the high school would receive an expanded gymnasium.
“I believe the NDP don’t know what they’re doing; that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” said Baillie. “Certainly the department of education and the school board knows of the commitment that was made to Springhill and they know the community centre gym was put on hold because we trusted them to keep that commitment. The Treasury Board is ignoring that commitment they made.”