The demolition plans are unfolding for the former site of Prince George's Montessori elementary program.
Highglen Montessori elementary school was damaged by a fire on April 22. It is now confirmed that the building cannot be salvaged.
"The next step is to demolish the rest of the school for safety reasons, this is expected to be completed by the end of the year," said ministry spokesman Matt Silver, and confirmed by School District 57 superintendent Brian Pepper.
"We don't exactly know when demolition will take place, but there is a tender in place set to close in mid-October," Pepper said.
"The Ministry of Education is working with the school district on options to address the loss of Highglen elementary school," Silver added.
Pepper said it was too early to predict what might happen for the Montessori program: rebuilding Highglen at its 290 Voyageur Drive site, diverting the program to one of SD57's surplus properties left over from the last round of school closures, or build a Montessori site somewhere else.
"The board has work to do, before any determinations can be made," Pepper said. "There is project identification work to do. We are waiting for some reports to be finalized and then the board will begin that deliberation process."
Monique Spencer is the co-administrator of the Friends Of Highglen Montessori facebook page. She said there is worry among the families connected to the choice school that its temporary home, Gladstone elementary school (it was unused as a school at the time of the fire), might become the permanent location.
"To hear that it's [Highglen] being demolished gives me both feelings of sadness and hope," Spencer said. "Sadness for the years of heart and soul that have been invested, and the memories it holds. And hope that this is our chance to rebuild and create new memories for our children, and our children's children, as it has been done in the past. I'm not saying that this cannot be done in a school like Gladstone, but moving the students into an existing building that upon it's construction was never intended to be a Montessori environment would simply never have the heart that Highglen held."
The Highglen location was ideal, Spencer said, because of its centrality. As a choice school, parents have to transport the students themselves every morning from all over the city (this year a parent-paid bus service is provided due to the extraordinary circumstances). Having the school at one end of the city makes for a very long commute for some parents. One family drives 110 kilometres per day to keep their kids in the Montessori program.
Some can't afford the time or the money and are choosing to enroll in the closer mainstream schools instead.
One family sold their house in order to buy in the neighbourhood nearest Highglen the week before the fire happened. Their former home was only a few blocks from Gladstone.
"My thoughts are 110 per cent against any location being permanent with the exception of where it's home is, at 290 Voyageur Drive," Spencer said.
"I am hopeful that the demolition of Highglen is a positive sign that we will soon be moving our children back in."
The Ministry of Education would not speculate on the future of the school, deferring to the study process underway now at the district level. It was their job to respond to the eventual request made by SD57, said Silver, and that was still unknown.