Students living in the Iona area of Cape Breton will be going to school in one of the province’s most energy efficient schools next September. The $5.8-million contract for designing and building the school has been awarded to Joneljim Concrete Construction (1994) Ltd., of Sydney. The Iona School, which has a projected enrolment of 155 students, will replace Rankin Memorial and Christmas Island schools. “This is a unique school for a unique community,” said acting Education Minister Angus MacIsaac. “It will be the first LEED-certified school built in Nova Scotia.” LEED certification is based on the Canada Green Building Council and measures environmental performance over the life of a building. The school will be highly energy efficient, with fuel savings of between 30 and 40 per cent a year. The 35,300-square-foot facility will be equipped with solar panels to heat water, specially glazed windows to retain heat, and state of the art air and vapour barriers for improved insulation. Work has already begun on the new Grade Primary to 12 school. The $800,000 first phase began last fall with construction of the foundation and site work. Last spring the province re-issued the construction tender for the project after the first tender exceeded budget. The re-tendered project pushed the opening of the school back several months and has added about $400,000 to the price tag, originally estimated at $6.2 million. Mr. MacIsaac acknowledged there have been challenges designing a modern school of this type for a relatively small student body. “It has been delayed unfortunately, but I’m happy to say that we now feel we are on the right track and the school will be open in time for the first day of school in September 2006,” Mr. MacIsaac said. Darlene Morrison, chair of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, thanked the Department of Education and community groups for their efforts. “I am delighted with the Iona P-12 school announcement today. The school community has worked hard and waited patiently for their new school, and I am very pleased for them. This is a wonderful announcement for all the participants,” she said. Mr. MacIsaac said the new school will continue the role of its predecessors as a focal point for the preservation of Gaelic culture. The new building will offer improved facilities in all areas of school life, particularly in physical education and music.