Local school to be declared as surplus by December

Council has learned that the former Earl Prentice Public School will be listed as surplus property before the end of the year.

The news came as part of a presentation from the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board’s manager of planning, Kim Horrigan, at the October 2 meeting.

“You will have the opportunity to submit an expression of interest should you be interested,” Horrigan told council, explaining that the property will go through the process of an appraisal before being offered as surplus for purchase.

The school will be first be offered to more than 20 different organizations before it’s up for purchase by the town, she added, and the property would be assessed at fair market value.

The board has already taken materials, furniture and other items out of the building that can be utilized at other school board properties.

The closure of Earl Prentice was made a priority in the board’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, with the intent of amalgamating it with the former Marmora Senior school to create a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school. Earl Prentice officially closed in March 2018 and students now attend Marmora Public School.

Horrigan explained that school closures are the result of declines in enrolment, reduced provincial funding and aging facilities, among other things.

“On average our facilities are about 55 years old, and we have 40 facilities, so that’s significant,” she said.

“We have $250,000,000 in renewal needs in our facilities … that we need to make sure we maintain and upkeep.”

Another option the board is exploring is leasing space in facilities that remain open but aren’t operating at full capacity. With this option, municipalities or community groups have the opportunity to lease portions of schools at an annual rate of $9.14 per square foot.

Horrigan said the aim is to come up with a “cooperative and collaborative” approach for communities to use empty classrooms and other spaces in schools to provide educational programming or events for the public.

This won’t be an opportunity with Earl Prentice however, as the school is already slated to be sold by the board.

Council provided comment at the end of the presentation, and thanked Horrigan for visiting the municipality to clarify the process.

“(Earl Prentice) is very important to the community and some people have different ideas than others have on what should happen to the facility,” said Mayor Terry Clemens.

“We want to get that conversation going.”

Megan AbrahamComment