PORT HAWKESBURY: The Strait regional school board (SRSB) has approved its school renovations plan for the coming year, while officially bidding goodbye to the building that housed the board’s central offices for the past two decades.

Board members voted unanimously at their latest regular monthly meeting to declare the SRSB’s former central office building on 16 Cemetery Road in Port Hastings as surplus. Once a school building itself, the facility ceased to house the board’s official meeting space and several of its key staffers in mid-March, when the SRSB moved its central operations to the ground floor of the SAERC high school site in Port Hawkesbury.

The decision to move the SRSB offices to SAERC came in the fall of 2015, after an independent study determined the closure of the SRSB’s Port Hastings office and subsequent relocation of its staff and operations to SAERC is estimated to cost the board $552,000. Two options involving the movement of the central offices to Mulgrave Memorial Education Centre (MMEC) bore price tags of $3.089 million and $2.56 million.

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Addressing the issue at the June 7 board meeting in the SAERC Auditorium, board superintendent Ford Rice confirmed that the Port Hastings office closure, which will see the building return to the auspices of the Municipality of the County of Inverness, is expected to save the board between $87,000 and $100,000 annually.

“For anybody familiar with that building, as you all are, there’s a lot of deferred maintenance that would have to be done for us to stay there and have it stay as the regional office,” Rice suggested, while adding that there is no specific destination for the funds saved by this closure.

While the superintendent commented that the former regional office, in operation since 1997, has “served the board very well,” he suggested that the savings recouped by the board’s recent move to SAERC are a positive demonstration of the SRSB’s commitment to full utilization of excess space within its facilities.

“This building has served the board very well throughout the years, we’ve been well-serviced by it, and we’re hoping that the new office that the Strait regional school board has now will serve the board for the next 20 years,” Rice declared.

Last week’s board meeting also saw SRSB members unanimously approve the board’s draft list of capital projects for the 2017-18 fiscal year, including the relocation of the fitness centre now located at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy (CEC/GA) into the planned Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex. The current fitness centre space will now prepare to house the CEC/GA Tech Ed Lab and a forthcoming Skilled Trades Lab.

The SRSB will also replace the asphalt roof at St. Andrew Junior School in Antigonish and is also planning to complete the second phase of floor replacement at East Richmond Education Centre (EREC) in St. Peter’s this coming summer. The same time period is also expected to include the addressing of rust build-up at the full-window wall that is part of the Strait Area Pool complex at the SAERC site.