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‘For sale’ sign will be going up on old Gill School in Port Alberni

Facility ‘surplus to our needs’ and needs expensive renovations, according to SD70
Gill Elementary School is located on Beaver Creek Road in Port Alberni. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

School District 70 (Pacific Rim) wants to sell the former Gill Elementary School.

The school was closed back in 2015 after a reconfiguration process that converted the school district into a K-7, 8-12 system. The closest middle school, A.W. Neill Middle School (now Tsuma-as Elementary School), was converted to an elementary school in place of Gill.

READ MORE: SD70 to close Eighth Avenue and Gill

Since the school was closed, SD70 superintendent Greg Smyth said it has not been used for any educational purposes. It is currently being used as a storage facility for SD70 and for some other community groups.

“The school is an asset financially but a burden or a liability operationally,” said Smyth.

The building is in poor shape, added Smyth, and would require “considerable investment” to make it work as a school again.

He explained during a board meeting on Nov. 10 that the nearby Tsuma-as is operating below 80 percent capacity, and school district projections suggest it will only reach 80 percent capacity “for a short period of time” over the next 15 years.

“We don’t believe at any time it’s going to get close to 90 percent,” said Smyth.

SD70 secretary-treasurer Lindsay Cheetham explained that the school board already passed a bylaw back in 2016 for the disposal of the school. The district still has to write a letter to the Ministry of Education and go through a public engagement process before the school can go up for sale.

The school board agreed with the move to dispose of the building and the property.

“It has been and will continue to be very much surplus to our needs,” said trustee John Bennie.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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