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Thursday, 26 May 2011 08:52

Architect chosen for Chinook project

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Swift Current’s public will become involved in the planning of the Chinook School Division’s new school within a month.

That was the message coming from the school board after it hired AODBT Architecture and Interior Design as its primary consultant for the project at a special board meeting May 24.

Randy Beler, the board’s chairperson, wants to get the newly hired firm up to speed quickly so Chinook can get the ball rolling on its new project.

“Now that the motion has passed, the board will addressing the issue with AODBT,” he said after the special board meeting. “We'll probably be starting as early as next week because now we can get the ball rolling and get them up to speed for what we want. 

“They'll be working with Holy Trinity's architect as well.”

The Ministry of Education has given Chinook and Holy Trinity to build a joint school. Holy Trinity has already hired a architectural firm and began its public consultation process.

AODBT was one of three architectural firms interviewed by Chinook’s facility standing committee on May 12. The board members on the committee expressed during their board meeting how impressed they were by AODBT and how well qualified they were to meet Chinook’s needs.

What put the company ahead of Stantec, which is the primary consultant for the Holy Trinity School Division’s new school in Swift Current, and P3A was AODBT’s history of building educational buildings.

The remarks Chinook received from AODBT’s references also impressed Chinook’s school board. According to a memo sent from Jim Shields, the director of education for the Prairie Spirit School Division, that division has worked with AODBT for 15 years and has been so pleased they now use them for their annual painting program. They often have the company meet with the ministry on behalf of the division as they trust it that much.

Lisa Kreese, the principal of École St. Thomas in Lloydminster, was also impressed with the Saskatchewan-based company when it built her school. She said AODBT had a fantastic process at the beginning to understand the structure of the teaching and what design elements can get in the way of learning. She also said the company was willing to listen to all people involved in the planning process and came up with innovative ideas.

Now that the board has hired its primary consultant the division will be planning public consultation meetings in June.

Dave Spencer, Chinook’s communication co-ordinator, said division representatives will be meeting with the school-community councils from Swift Current schools in the initial consultation to determine what the most important and appropriate questions will be.

He didn’t say whether students would be involved in designing the schools like Holy Trinity’s students were, but he pointed out Chinook’s consultations will involved more than one school.

“There will be some discussion in terms of what will be needed for an appropriate learning environment for students. The public consultation the board has envisioned is much broader than that though,” he said. “It will take a look at the new school but also the learning environment and the school facilities that need to be provided in the rest of the city. That includes grade configuration and what is the most appropriate facility setting for kids in whatever grade configuration is determined.”

École Oman will be closing when the new school opens. Chinook is planning to reconfigure the grades at Fairview School so elementary school students can receive their education on the south side of the city. That may force the other schools in the city to reconfigure their grades.

The new school, which the board is hoping will open in September 2013, is expected to offer pre-kindergarten to Grade 8.

Chinook representatives, however, won’t make any of those decisions without consulting the public first. Beler said to watch for announcements on the consultations as they will begin once AODBT is up to speed.

“We're probably going to start consultations in early June and we're having a minimum of two of those,” he said.

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