By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board’s plan to consolidate and modernize the Chatham school community is falling into place.
At its regular meeting last week, the board released an artist’s rendition of the new school to be built in south Chatham that will house the St. Ursula Catholic School and Georges P. Vanier Catholic School student communities.
The new structure, to be completed for September 2023, will be located on the south side of the as-yet-to-be developed Tweedsmuir Avenue extension.
Owned by Jodamar Properties Ltd., the location is still a farmer’s field, however, work to service the site is scheduled to begin this fall with plans to extend the roadway, west of the existing Keil-Tweedsmuir roundabout, this summer.
SCCDSB chairman John Van Heck said the new school fulfills the board’s mission to update its buildings and provide its students with state-of-the-art learning facilities.
“We will have revamped all of our Chatham education centres,” Van Heck said.
The opening of the new Angela Merici school in 2020, and the current revamp of the former Our Lady of Fatima School – now the Monsignor Uyen Catholic School – are part of the board’s long-range plan.
The Uyen school, which will offer French Immersion programming, is scheduled to welcome students this coming September.
According to director of education Deb Crawford, the project at Monsignor Uyen is “progressing well” with the bulk of the work slated for completion by August.
According to communications officer Todd Lozon, the board’s current school enrolment in Chatham is 1,405.
The school population in the city is expected to remain stable over the next five years.
The board also voted to approve a final budget of $122,534,498 for 2021-2022.
The spending will include a three-year mental health and addictions strategy and an increased focus on student equity, including an Indigenous education action plan and supports for English language learners.
The budget also allocates funding to provide every student and classroom educator with a board-owned learning device.
A total of $2.4-million in COVID-19 supports are provided in the budget as well, of which $1.6-million is funded by the Ministry of Education specifically for safeguarding against the virus.