Provincial grant earmarked for Cedar school conversion

NANAIMO – School district focuses majority of $2.6-million grant on its 10-year enhanced facilities plan.

The Nanaimo school district will focus a majority of $2.6-million provincial grant on projects related to its 10-year facilities plan.

The school district business committee is recommending board approval of the 2014-15 annual facilities grant plan, which sees about $1.6 million going to related projects. The district earmarked $1 million for the conversion of Cedar Secondary School to an elementary.

Another $1 million is being projected for that project from the 2015-16 grant.

Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, said the Ministry of Education confirmed the amount on Friday.

With some design and estimation work already done, the cost of school conversion is currently estimated at $2 million.

The Ministry of Education classifies the conversion as a major capital project, as it is more than $1.5 million, he said.

“Major capital projects are significant design challenges,” Sabo said. “We’re not just renovating a bathroom, we’re altering a school from a secondary to an elementary and typically, you bring forward budget estimates at a certain time in the design process, pre-tender or whatever.

In this case, we have a March deadline that we need to meet that we need to go forward with an estimate, so the estimate is based on all the planning work that we’ve done to date.”

Sabo said the final amount is subject to change, as factors such as an increase or decrease in scope of the work, or change in prices.

“Might it cost less than $2 million? Yes, that would be our goal, to try and get costs down. Might it cost more? It might if, for instance, the board wants to do extra work in the building,” Sabo said. “We’ll be communicating a little bit more with the business committee and the board about cost estimates, etc., in the future, but at this point, to the best of our information, we believe the entire project’s going to be within a $2-million envelope.”

The provincial grant money will also see $120,000 go toward John Barsby Community School for completion of home economics and textiles room renovation, and $150,000 will go to Ladysmith Secondary School for the influx of Grade 7 students from the Cedar school closure.

About $250,000 will be spent on district-wide electrical upgrades and another $250,000 for priority boiler replacement.

The plan will be forwarded to the board for approval at an upcoming meeting.

Cedar elementary is expected to open for the 2015-16 year.