Government contracts outside for school advice

The Education department sole-sourced a $70,000 contract to a Victoria-based consulting company to help decide what kind of school to build in…

The Education department sole-sourced a $70,000 contract to a Victoria-based consulting company to help decide what kind of school to build in Whitehorse.

Hold Fast Consultants was handed the contract during the territorial election in mid-September.

“We’re working with a company from Outside that’s got a background in school facilities and school-facility design,” said Education minister Patrick Rouble.

“What kind of school do we need up in Copper Ridge?” Rouble said Wednesday.

“Do we need a primary school or a secondary school?”

Hold Fast will also examine FH Collins Secondary School and Porter Creek Secondary School, to determine how they can better suit community needs, he said.

“Is the size the right size for the community?

“Does it need to be bigger?

“Are there other services that we need to offer there?

“We’re just going through a process now of adding a cafeteria on (to Porter Creek Secondary).

“We need to take a look at FH Collins.

“FH Collins has served the Yukon very well for quite some time now, and we need to take a serious look at it…

“Is it in need of major repairs? Is it in need of substantive reconstruction?

“And what do we need by way of high school facilities?”

Hold Fast will consult with parents, teachers, local school councils and First Nations before offering recommendations about what type of school is most needed, said schools superintendent Lee Kubica.

“The government wanted an independent study,” said Kubica.

“In Copper Ridge, we will have a steering committee that (Hold Fast) will report to.”

The steering committee will consist of the principals and a council member from Takhini Elementary School and Elijah Smith Elementary School, as well as representatives from the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Ta’an Kwach’an Council and the community associations of Granger and Copper Ridge.

“Whether the school will be built or not (in Copper Ridge) is not up for debate; it’s going to be about what kind of school is going to be built,” said Kubica.

“Basically what Hold Fast is going to do is survey parents in the area to get a good handle on who the kids are in the area — so will this be a kindergarten to Grade 3 school, or will this be a kindergarten to Grade 7 school?

“Certainly there has been talk that maybe that is where a new FH Collins should be located.”

The government is wondering whether to refurbish or replace FH Collins.

Recommendations from Hold Fast will be considered in a financial context.

Building an elementary school costs about $10 million, while a high school can run up to $40 million, he said.

A new school has not been built in Whitehorse in 10 years, Kubica added.