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Work continues on new Ecole La-Belle-Cloche in Rollo Bay with possible February opening

Trevor Billard cuts a piece of drywall at the construction site of the new Ecole La-Belle-Cloche in Rollo Bay.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Trevor Billard cuts a piece of drywall at the construction site of the new Ecole La-Belle-Cloche in Rollo Bay. ©THE GUARDIAN - Ryan Ross

Marise Chapman is looking forward to moving next year.

The Ecole La-Belle-Cloche principal said staff and students have been in a building that was meant for elementary grades but has seen the number of students more than double over the years.

“We are very excited,” she said.

Chapman was one of about a dozen people involved in a recent tour of the school’s new building in Rollo Bay to show off the expanded facilities that include a large multi-purpose room, a bigger gym and more classroom space.

It will also feature a section for a community centre and a daycare.

Chapman said there were 93 students enrolled at the now K-12 Ecole La-Belle-Cloche this year in Fortune Bridge, which is up from 36 several years ago.

“We’ve outgrown that space,” she said.

After construction finishes, Ecole La-Belle-Cloche will take over the former Rollo Bay School with a major expansion to the previous structure.

Chapman said the new building means the school can offer more courses, like home economics and industrial arts.

In the case of band, the school offers it in Fortune Bridge, but the students use a room not meant for it and the instruments can be disruptive to other classes, Chapman said.

“We are looking forward to spaces that were designed for their use.”

Marise Chapman, principal, Ecole La-Belle-Cloche

During the tour, crews were busy working throughout the building, running wiring, hanging drywall and laying tiles.

Chapman said she hopes students and staff can move to the new building in February.

“I just can’t wait to be able to showcase it to the community,” she said.

As for the cost, Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Department spokesman Tyler Richardson said the project is over budget, which at one point was $8.3 million.

That price tag has risen to $9.15 million with the federal government contributing $2.44 million to the project.

Richardson said there were several reasons for the change, including an increase in the cost of labour and construction material.

Some of the building that was going to be renovated in the initial plan had to be demolished and replaced, Richardson said.

Along with other reasons for the increase, Richardson said the province didn’t get as many bids for the project as expected and there were a lot of other construction projects underway on the Island.

“I think prices, for various reasons, are going up on tenders,” Richardson said.

As for the work itself, Richardson said the old parts of the school will be totally retrofitted.

“You’ll have a difficult time, I think, telling the difference between a brand new classroom and a totally renovated classroom,” he said.

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