There was a school fight in the Saskatchewan Legislature today.
Politicians were doing battle over the state of an inner city school gym in Regina. It was deemed unsafe and closed last month. About 75% of the students at Sacred Heart elementary school are Aboriginal.
Opposition critic Warren McCall took their cause to the daily question period in the Legislature.
Native elder Mike Pinnay watched the debate from the visitor’s gallery. Pinnay does a lot of work at the school with the students and their parents.
Attendance at the school is up, the students reading levels are the highest in the region, and the school had its biggest graduation ever last year. Pinnay says losing the gym is a big blow for the whole community:
“This is not an expense. You know, they were talking about expenditures, so many millions spent over so many years. This is not an expense, this is an investment.”
McCall represents the area as the local MLA. He says the students and their parents deserve a firm commitment from the government:
“The government should be falling all over itself looking for ways to help the school do the work it is succeeding at, not taking a pass.”
Education Minister Russ Marchuk says he shares the concerns being raised, but he could not provide a commitment on when the students would have a gym:
“And I know how valuable the facility is to bring the community together. And so, it is urgent — and we are treating it as urgent — and we will continue to work with them in that regard.”
The Sacred Heart School was built in 1928. It has been on the rebuild list since 2007, but nothing much has happened since then.
Last month, the gym was deemed unsafe after the scoreboard fell down and the walls began to buckle. The school is not on the list for major capital repairs this year.