Getting the go ahead
Ratepayers give board the OK to borrow $9.2 million to replace Weledeh

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 30/98) - It's a go.

Ratepayers of the Yellowknife Catholic School Board gave the go ahead on Monday for the board to borrow $9.2 million to replace Weledeh Catholic school.

The final results of the plebiscite were 286 voting yes and 64 voting no. With 2,110 ratepayers in the district, that translates into a 17 per cent voter turnout.

However, Catholic School Board Superintendent Loretta Foley wasn't letting the low turnout bother her.

"I'm on top of the world right now," said Foley. "What this means for the kids is a new school. It's a school that will last for 40 or 50 years and it will be built to prepare them for the 21st century."

The vote means the project will start up by late spring with the 300 students moving from the present Weledeh school to the southern portion of the building that used to house the old St. Patrick high school.

If all goes well, the new school should be complete by September of the year 2,000.

The project will be paid for through a financing agreement with the territorial government. The government has committed to make operating contributions to the board over the next 20 years. The board will use those contributions to pay off the debt. Both the board and the government have consistently said ratepayers taxes will not increase because of the project.

Weledeh Principal John Murphy said he expected the ratepayers to vote in favour of borrowing the money. But he also said staff still worried about how the vote would turn out.

"It was a nagging worry. These are times of fiscal restraint. I was worried people may have not seen the need for it," said Murphy. "But I can assure you there is a need for it."

Murphy said some of the problems with the 30-year-old school include classrooms with faulty heating, windows that won't open and infrastructure that does not exist for setting up computers.

Kevin Glenn, who has a daughter in Grade 2 at the school, said he is happy the school will be rebuilt.

"I think it's great," said Glenn. "My daughter is a student and she has a lot of years ahead of her there."

He said as a member of the school's parent advisory committee, he spends a lot of time at the school and he thinks it will be money well spent.

"Go in there in February when there is five per cent humidity," said Glenn. "Take a look at the water bottles the kids have to bring in because it is so dry in there."

Paula Parrell, who has a daughter in Grade 4 at Weledeh, was also pleased the project went through.

"You get the feeling it's an older building," said Parrell. "The rooms are really small. It could do with a facelift if nothing else."