SD54 plans renovations over summer

School District 54 board of trustees announced they are spending more than $1 million to renovate several schools over the summer.

School District 54 board of trustees announced they are spending more than $1 million to renovate several schools over the summer last Tuesday at their last meeting of the school year, June 18.

The largest ticket item is the renovation of the gymnasium at Houston Secondary School with a bill of almost $1.3 million.

“It’s been a long time in coming,” School District 54 secretary/treasurer Steve Richards said.

The renovations, under the Ministry of Housing’s building envelope program, a province-wide program, are intended to improve the school’s envelope to stop water leakage.

The exterior of the HSS gymnasium will be completely replaced.

At the same time, Richards said the drainage around the school will be improved.

Work on the gymnasium is expected to be underway this week with a projected completion date some time in September.

The school district is also spending close to $85,000 from their annual facility grant money to improve the insulation of several schools in the district.

HSS, Twain Sullivan Twain Elementary and Silverthorne Elementary schools in Houston, as well as Telkwa Elementary and Smithers Secondary schools  are receiving renovations to their thermal barriers to reduce the amount of heat lost, especially during the winter.

The heat loss was identified using a thermal imaging camera, Richards said.

“You can lean against a building, walk away, then pick up your thermal imprint on the wall,” Richards said.

“It allows us to see where there are tremendous gaps [in insulation] and leakage around windows and doors.

“It really provides some guidance as to what the priorities should be to try and save on heat costs.”

Some of the buildings, Richards said, have little to no insulation.

“They’re fairly inexpensive fixes and good value on the return,” Richards said.

“Those are really good projects.”

The work at the five schools includes weather stripping air sealing and the installation of additional insulation.

School board trustees also gave unanimous approval for the 2013/2104 budget, based on

an anticipated enrolment figure of 2,178 students, although Richards admitted there were challenges ahead to meet the budget projections.

With a total budget of approximately $22 million, Richards said the biggest challenge to the budget would be uncontrolled costs, with the largest contributors being sick-leave and legal costs.

Other pressures included increased costs of the teachers’ pension fund and workman’s compensation in addition to the effects of inflation.