Saskatoon Public Schools sets ‘bittersweet’ official closing date for Princess Alexandra School

After more than 60 years of providing education, Princess Alexandra School will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.

Saskatoon Public Schools officially announced Wednesday that the school would hold its last school day on June 29.

“I think bittersweet is probably the best way to describe it,” said Shane Skjerven, director of education at Saskatoon Public Schools.

“It’s going to be a bit of an adjustment for Princess Alexandra to close. On the other hand, I think the term excitement for the new school would be an understatement.”

The current school site will be home to the City Centre School project, which will amalgamate the current Princess Alexandra School, King George School and Pleasant Hill School into one new building.

The new school will house between 400 to 500 students and will feature cultural programming, as well as the potential of health and recreation facilities offered by the Saskatoon Tribal Council in an adjoining building.

The site is expected to be cleared for construction this fall. The school was originally slated to open in 2024, although Skjerven said construction delays may bump the project back a year.

Most of the students currently going to Princess Alexandra will be bused to King George School until the school is open.

“We have plenty of space at King George School,” said Skjerven.

“It’s also an opportunity for that school community to build a sense of community because when the new school is opened, obviously King George will close and the kids will come back to the Riversdale site.”

Before the closure, the school division is planning parent barbecues and ceremonies to mark the school’s closure.

Skjerven served as principal of Princess Alexandra School for six years and said it will always have a special place in his heart.

“I just absolutely love that community,” he said.

“It wasn’t the building, it was the people. It was the children that came to school every single day with smiles on their faces, ready to learn. It was the parents and the caregivers that walked them into those buildings and sat in our parent room and had a cup of coffee in the morning and a chat.”

The new school is estimated to cost between $22.5 to $25 million to build.

Controversy continues

Despite the announcement, some people in the west-side continue to have concerns about the project.

Once the new school is completed, children in the King George and Pleasant Hill neighbourhoods will have to be bused more than a kilometre to get to classes.

Some people were also concerned about building a large building on a relatively small piece of land.

“I’m a little nervous because the site is so small where they can fit everyone in,” said Karen Farmer with the Pleasant Hill Community Association.

“But, you know, I hope it’s a great place for the kids.”

Farmer and others in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood are also concerned about what will happen to Pleasant Hill School once it’s officially closed down. She wants to see the building converted into a community centre or low-income housing.

“For 110 years, taxpayers have been paying to support that school,” she said.

“I think it’s a bit of a slap in our face to it to just walk away from that.”