The disposal process for four Mission-area schools has been “slowed down.”
The Mission Board of Education announced Tuesday night that the deadline for expressions of interest on the properties has been extended until June 1.
The proposals will then come before the board’s business committee on June 7, to discuss the possibility of moving forward with the disposal of any of the properties.
The four schools in question are Stave Falls Elementary, Durieu Elementary, Cade Barr Elementary and Nicomen Island School. All four schools are currently closed.
When it was first announced that the properties may be disposed off, there was some negative feedback, most notably from residents in the Staff Falls area.
Board chair Rick McKamey said the process is only at the preliminary stage and no decisions have been made. However, eventually the intent is to dispose of the properties.
“The ministry would like to eliminate excess sites,” he explained. “We as districts have been able to hold on to some sites for a period of time, some of it beyond what they (the Ministry) would like to see us holding onto.”
He went on to say all the district needs to do is prove that there is value in holding onto the sites.
And the expressions of interest could show that.
“It may be an expression to purchase, or it may be an expression of a short-term or even a long-term lease, with the expectation of purchase at the end.”
McKamey added if they can show the Ministry that it isn’t costing the school board money to hold on to the properties and to keep the buildings in good condition, then they could hang on to them for a longer period of time.
However, if a property is leased it is “highly unlikely” it would ever return to being a school.
Phil Cooper, of the Stave Falls Community Association, said the group is currently working on a proposal that would allow the area to keep Stave Falls Elementary and use it as a community centre.
“I think, all things considered, we’ll have an opportunity to lease the school,” said Cooper.
He met with McKamey last week and had a “very frank” discussion about the property. Now that the process has been slowed down, Cooper said they have the time needed to put a proposal together.