Construction workers have broken ground on a new elementary school in La Loche, Sask.

The school, which will replace the nearly 50-year-old Ducharme Elementary School, is expected to serve approximately 475 students from pre-kindergarten through Grade 6.

The building will have 26 classrooms, a kitchen for student meal programs, and a feature staircase that can be used for school gatherings.

It will also feature a cultural centre for Indigenous programming and ceremonies, designed to reflect Indigenous culture and celebrate the local landscape.

Saskatoon-based Wright Construction Western Inc. is leading construction.

The provincial government is spending $30 million to build the school — one of 57 new schools the province has been involved in building since 2008.

“Our government is committed to investing in education across our province and especially in the north by providing modern, safe and inclusive learning environments for students to grow and learn,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a prepared statement.

“This new elementary school will be able to serve not only the students and families of La Loche but also the brooader community for generations to come.”

In La Loche, the Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) is adding some additional funds to the project.

Its contribution to the construction costs means the school will have a bigger gym that can also be used by the community at large.

Construction on the “much needed” new elementary school is “certainly … an occasion worth celebrating,” said school board chair Richard Petit.

“The board of trustees is thrilled that the province made the decision to invest in a new elementary school in La Loche, and we are so pleased that the process is moving forward.”

The new elementary school will be located next to Dene High School in La Loche.

Construction is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2025.

By: Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix