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No more students, but G.R. Davis school will continue to serve community, division

gr davis school

GR Davis school

For the first time in decades, G.R. Davis school in Fort Macleod sat empty when the bell rang to start a new school term.
G.R. Davis school was declared surplus in planning for the modernization of Fort Macleod schools, with Kindergarten to Grade 5 students at W.A. Day school and Grade 6-12 at F.P. Walshe school.
The building’s future has not been determined.
“It’s in discussion with the board right now as to what can happen with that facility,” Livingstone Range School Division superintendent Dave Driscoll said Friday. “Our main goal was to make sure we got the two new schools up and running and the students in those schools all taken care of.”
Declining enrollment in Fort Macleod forced the Livingstone Range board to embark on plans to “right-size” the schools, and make effective use of the available space.
When the province announced two years ago that it was making $18-million available to modernize W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe schools, G.R. Davis was declared surplus and slated for closure.
G.R. Davis school housed the Kindergarten and Grade 6-12 students during the two-year modernization project.
With work at W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe completed and staff and students in place on Thursday, the future of the G.R. Davis building moved to the forefront.
“The main thrust has always been let‘s get those other schools done first, and then we’ll have those discussions about G.R. Davis,” Driscoll said. “The board is aware of it, the board has been thinking about it. As a division we have been looking at our facilities and are there things we could be doing differently as a division.”
When discussions first started about reconfiguring the two other schools in Fort Macleod, the division asked the community for suggestions on how best to use G.R. Davis school in future.
“We heard lots of good ideas from the community and the board has that,” Driscoll said. “They’ll take all that into account as they go through this.”
Driscoll said G.R. Davis is a sound building, although if it is to be used year-round the heating and air conditioning systems would need to be upgraded.
Any renovations would likely require dealing with asbestos that was common in insulation in old buildings.
“Whatever we do with it, there is going to have to be some work done to it,” Driscoll said.
In the meantime, Livingstone Range’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit program co-ordinator will have an office at G.R. Davis school, Parents As Teachers program will use the building, and the school division will host some meetings there, taking advantage of its central location.
The school division’s maintenance staff will also use the building.
Livingstone Range will likely hold a community session in Fort Macleod to discuss the future of G.R. Davis school, and anyone with ideas is urged to contact the school division.
“Definitely we would like to find a way to make it a useful building, full of life again,” Driscoll said.

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