It was an exciting Monday morning for the teachers and students of Ecole St-Malo, as they heard the news that they would be enjoying a brand-new 23,000 sq ft school addition for the fall of 2023.

The original building was built in 1958 with an addition expanding space in 1980. However, today there are 5 portable classrooms and Charlene Geiler, chair of the Red River Valley School Division Board of Trustees says, “The Ecole St-Malo school has been quickly outgrowing its walls, and a new facility is so important to meet the needs for the future of all students. Students and staff have not been together in this building for years. They have been moved out to pods and even another building off the property. And from what you can see here, we really have a great community. A fresh new school will make this community shine.”

L-R Wayne Ewasko (Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning), Charlene Geiler (Red River Valley Trustee), Julie Karatchuk (St. Malo School Principal), Dennis Smook (MLA for La Verendrye), Brad Curtis (Red River Valley School Division Superintendent / CEO)

The Minister of Education and Early Childhood learning, Wayne Ewasko shared the news they’d all been waiting to hear. “Construction will soon begin on a major addition and renovation to Ecole Saint-Malo School at a cost of over $16 million.”

Ewasko continues, "Advancing education starts with making investments that will improve school infrastructure, to support better learning. Currently, 248 students between kindergarten and Grade 8 attend Ecole Saint-Malo. The school is at capacity with some students needing transportation outside their neighbourhoods and/or are being housed in temporary modular classrooms. This puts a strain on existing school infrastructure and amenities such as gym and library access. This project will help Ecole Saint-Malo meet growing enrollment needs in curriculum delivery along with improvements to essential school facilities. A major classroom addition is also necessary for the school to meet its current enrollment needs and anticipated growth.."

The project has been awarded to Pennco. It will consist of 10 new classrooms, a new gymnasium and a multi-purpose space. It will also have fire life safety upgrades, a new life-skills resource and guidance suite and renovations to existing spaces to connect and upgrade required services and utilities.

Ewasko shares more exciting news. “This project will also meet Manitoba’s Green Building Policy objectives. Incorporating sustainable design and energy efficiency initiatives. The school addition is being built to meet ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’ the acronym is LEED.”

He says the building will be healthy, highly efficient, and a cost-saving green building. Ewasko says, “It's important for all students and staff to learn and work in an environment that is conducive to the learning process. A healthier, more comfortable space makes for a more productive space and positively impacts student growth and development.”

Geiler was very excited about the announcement, thanking the division superintendent among others from the office saying, “We've been waiting to announce this for so long and now it's here.”

“The Board of trustees appreciates the province for making investments to provide great opportunities for students. Our students are our future and having a wonderful place to learn is so important. Thank you to Mr. Ewasko and MLA Smook for coming to our town to share this great news with us.”

According to the contractor, construction will start almost immediately. Jokingly, MLA Dennis Smook says, “once this snowstorm goes through.” Pennco is hoping to get shovels in the ground by the end of the month.