Future facility needs, projects discussed with SE Cornerstone board

Submitted by Norm Park, Contracted Reporter for SECPSD


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The annual report on facilities and transportation within the Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division was filled with information that included not only the current state of affairs, but also a look into future needs and projects.

Andy Dobson, the facilities and transportation manager, provided the report via an online presentation to the board during their virtual February 10 monthly business meeting.

He began with some numbers, showing the board members where and how the 217 staff members in that department were deployed as caretakers, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, electricians, carpenters, etc.

He cited the development of operations procedure manuals as being well received and helped “make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day.”

The facilities manager also oversees such items as property disposal and/or procurement and management along with proposed new building projects.

Dobson noted that disposal of such items as former rural schools and school properties, other land parcels and former maintenance shops as well as oil and gas leases, all come under this facilities management banner. As a result, they work with rural and urban municipality managers on a fairly regular basis, whether it be dealing with one or two-acre former school yards to current road maintenance issues.

Licenses for childcare spaces in any of the division’s 37 schools or 15 other education-related facilities are also in their files as are five-year strategic business plans for all sectors.

The report provided by Dobson indicated recent new builds within the division that included the completion of a new transportation garage and shop in Weyburn, and a large Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 Legacy Park Elementary School also in Weyburn that will open in September. He noted this new school enjoys many new benefits, including 51 child-care spaces to go along with 23 classrooms and supporting spaces.

The federally-assisted Climate Action Incentive Fund to promote energy saving initiative projects sees $515,782 being directed to Cornerstone, Dobson said. That has allowed the facilities team to begin a project to switch schools to LED lighting systems. He said a dozen schools will be switched by the end of March and possibly another dozen will be put in the program if it is extended.

The continual need for roof repairs is now under a guided system with a desired benchmark of 20 per cent or less, based on a 25-year life span expectation. The five-year average budget allocated for roof repairs or replacement is around $1.8 million, Dobson said.

The newer system of carrying out regular repairs is now reaping benefits. “I was just thinking, 10 years ago we would have had 10 to 15 schools phoning us with roof or water issues due to weather. So far … none,” he said.

He later took into account the devastating blizzard of January 13 that tore the roof off Gladmar School and did significant damage to the new Weyburn Comprehensive School as well as more minor damages to six other schools. Events like that come under a different flag or file. He later noted that total estimated damages and insurance claims due to the January 13 event amounted to about $1.8 million.

The emptying of schools last March provided opportunities for construction crews to complete some school projects on a more rapid schedule and a significant amount of backlogged school bus maintenance work was completed.

The pandemic responses also saw the transportation and facilities team erect 600 protective barriers in schools, in preparation for the return to classroom instruction. They also installed hand sanitizers in each school. Drivers delivered technology equipment to students as well as meals to identified families during the shutdown.

Upgrades for air systems and roofs in a variety of schools including MacLeod Elementary in Moosomin, Pleasantdale in Estevan and Lyndale School in Oungre as well as Redvers are among the more ambitious projects slated for this fiscal year. After that, schools in Ogema and Estevan (Hillcrest and Estevan Comprehensive School) are destined for major corrections.

Dobson said with the exception of the January 13 storm, the division has been fortunate since they have not had to deal with many emergency responses over a 10-year period.

He noted that applications for relocated classrooms for MacLeod Elementary in Moosomin and Arcola school, have been denied. He said MacLeod was at 98.3 per cent capacity while Arcola was at 105.7 per cent.

Major capital projects identified for the future include a major project for the Estevan Comprehensive School, a proposed joint project with Holy Family School Division in Estevan for a new PreK-6 school, and a new Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 facility in Carlyle if given the green light by the Education Ministry.