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Renovations needed at Dinsmore school to address structural issues

Plans were discussed for renovations that are said to be needed for the local school.

DINSMORE - An informational meeting held at Dinsmore Composite School on Thursday, May 5 highlighted some prospective plans for renovations that are being explored in order to address some structural issues that have come to light.

DCS Principal Jade Ballek led the discussion on what's being looked at for the renovations, and the goal on this night was to gather as much feedback as possible before things move forward on any substantial work. People in attendance left comments, including their 'fears' and 'hopes', which were posted to boards on the wall.

The Sun West School Division has identified that six of the portable classrooms at DCS, or 'portables' for short, have reached their operational end of life and will need to be removed. It's said that such a project will provide a 'unique opportunity' for renovations throughout the school that will allow DCS to continue meeting the needs of the staff, students and community.

The firm of Henry Downing Architects has been engaged to help the students, staff, school families and community determine what changes should be made and to develop a plan for the school renovations. To that end, a series of stakeholder engagement sessions are being conducted and will culminate in a conceptual design for the renovations. Through this process, the future of DCS will be defined in collaboration with staff, students, school division representatives, and the larger community.

The goal behind this type of feeling-out process was to put together a wishlist before anything is submitted to the provincial government. As of now, there's no real way of knowing when any kind of construction or renovation could start at the school. However, DCS's plan involves moving students around because of the heavy need for these renovations, so the hope is that decision makers make this project a priority.

Staff at the school want to ensure the public that such a project is not the starting point for any sort of future conversation about closing the school permanently, a point that was brought up during the meeting. That simply isn't going to happen because Dinsmore Composite is known as a school necessity, meaning it's the only local school for miles and much of its student body is comprised of farm kids and those from other communities.

For those who couldn't make it to the school for the meeting, it was said that a survey may be created in order to send out to people to gather more thoughts and views on the renovation project.