Schools are busy places over the summer, but not from student activity.
Maintenance crews and contractors work throughout the summer, trying to get as many large and small projects done as they can before that first school bell rings in September. And across Chilliwack this summer, plenty was done.
Watson elementary arguably had the biggest facelift. In addition to new windows, a sprinkler upgrade, an exterior paint job and stucco repairs, they also had new flooring completed throughout the school.
And to really boost school spirit, the district staff even painted the school’s logo into the floor at two of the entrances.
“Watson was one of our biggest jobs, from roofing, to windows, to flooring,” said Allan Van Tassel, director of facilities and transportation for the school district.
But not every job was able to be completed in time, he said. At Rosedale Traditional Community School, a large sinkhole appeared over the summer in a portion of the parking lot. It had been marked off limits with cones until the job – which began this week – could be done,Van Tassel said.
The remediation work comes from a failure of plastic block structure that was placed under the pavement during the construction of the school. The warranty has expired for the work, and the company is out of business. But the work will go ahead, with some help from a contractor.
The parking lot at Cheam elementary also didn’t get completed this summer, a project that has been on the books for a while now. The problem was a very busy summer for the industry, Van Tassel explains.
“We struggled to get any contractors to bid,” he said. “And the ones that did bid weren’t able to do it over the summer.”
The cost is also a lot higher than initially expected, he told trustees at the Sept. 19 school board meeting.
Some of the work done over the summer helps the school district lower its bills and its carbon footprint, with the biggest improvement likely at Vedder elementary. The new boiler there will give the district up to 30 per cent in energy savings. A.D. Rundle got a new transformer upgrade that should provide better service to the school, while both Chilliwack and Vedder middle had sawdust extraction upgrades.
Robertson elementary, Watson elementary and the board office all received roofing upgrades, while Sardis secondary had its skylights repaired. Several of those sites were starting to experience leaking during rainfall, Van Tassel had noted previously.
Playgrounds were improved at Strathcona and Rosedale, and East Chilliwack had a parking lot paving improvement that has improved the lot drastically.
Inside the schools, GW Graham had its foods room ventilation upgraded, which will cut down on smells in the school as the popular foods program there continues to grow. At Sardis secondary, a science room was added and there was a Direct Digital Control upgrade. Rosedale had a boiler upgrade, and several portables had ventilation upgrades.
And regarding portables, they were a part of a major priority to create new classroom spaces over the summer. The district has created 24 new classroom spaces, relocated four portables, prepped sites for new portables still arriving, and purchased, built and installed new furniture to accommodate all the new staff. For example, at GW Graham, they closed in a mezzanine above the office and turned it into a new classroom. At Little Mountain elementary, they created an entirely new front office space, improving work space for staff and improving traffic flow inside the school.
The carpentry division built 55 new teacher desks over the summer, and moved 400 pieces of furniture to prepare for September and all its changes and enrolment growth.
Numerous changes were made to improve security at several sites, both to protect property and students and staff. They include fire and security alarm upgrades at select sites, roll shutter upgrades and an electronic door lock pilot program at four elementary schools.