SD 60 maintenance upgrades starting soon

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After maintenance grant funding was increased for the upcoming year, improvements to Sch…

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After maintenance grant funding was increased for the upcoming year, improvements to School District 60 schools could start as soon as classes are let out for summer.

SD 60 will be receiving $ 1.4 million out of the $240.5 million in school maintenance grants announced by the Province on Tuesday.

SD 60 Superintendent Stephen Petrucci says most projects are in the planning phase, but some are ready to start right away.

“It’s more for the 2021-2022 school year, starting in the fall for some of these projects,” says Petrucci. “There will be some summer work too. We’re looking at a couple of projects like HVAC upgrades at North Peace Secondary, as well as some exterior upgrades to Bert Ambrose Elementary. We might see that start sooner than later.”

Bert Ambrose Elementary will get exterior wall system upgrades through the funding, and HVAC and LED lighting upgrades will take place at North Peace Secondary, Hudson’s Hope, Dr. Kearney Middle, and Bert Bowes Middle. Three new buses are also included in the grants for SD 60.

Petrucci explains the exterior upgrade will be more than just light patching.

“They call these “re-skinning” projects. First of all, in many cases, they replace the windows if they’re too old, especially the moulding around the window.”

The superintendent says it’s a good time to see what other upgrades can be made as well.

“When we do bigger projects like this, we like to look at what else we can upgrade at the same time, so Bert Ambrose is going to get some attention.”

One project is underway right now.

“Currently, we have Alwin Holland Elementary undergoing some interior redesign and renovation, and that will continue through the summer and fall as well.”

For projects that start when students are still in school, or for projects that last longer than the summer holiday, a schedule is made up to limit disruptions.

“There were some major upgrades done to the HVAC at Upper Pine School in the last few months of the fall. They came up with a schedule where a couple of classrooms were used for storage, and the workers did more of an afternoon shift after 3 p.m.”

Petrucci says it’s a balancing act of getting the work done while trying not to interrupt student learning.

“The maintenance department does a terrific job of keeping up, and the cycle is getting better and better. There has been some major attention to our schools in the last few years, and that’s really helped.”

Taking the realities of life in northern British Columbia into consideration, Petrucci says the three buses coming to the district will not be electric.

“I’m not the expert on the criteria of what makes for a good environment [for electric buses], however, I can confirm the buses we put in for are not electric at this time.”

An added benefit of efficiency upgrades is the opportunity to teach students about energy conservation.

“We do talk about the carbon footprint at the leadership level and with the board, but also in our classrooms as well. Some of these projects are a great opportunity, and the teachers and administrators talk with the kids about what’s happening, and how things can be more efficient.”

Petrucci recognizes the value of students’ experiential learning and being able to see the results right in their own schools.

“I think we can always look at more ways to tie in these projects with this student learning focus.”

School District 59 is also getting just over $2 million. The grant will pay for HVAC system upgrades at Dawson Creek Secondary, Chetwynd Secondary, and Windrem Elementary. McLeod Elementary Secondary will get roofing upgrades, and the school district will get four new buses.

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