Board fighting to keep leaky roofs at bay at Central Okanagan schools | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Board fighting to keep leaky roofs at bay at Central Okanagan schools

Rutland Middle School tops the priority list for repairs and upgrades this year.
March 12, 2019 - 6:30 AM

KELOWNA - A $3.8 million repair budget is not enough to do more than the most essential school repairs and upgrades at Central Okanagan schools this year.

The Board of Education will be asked to approve 22 school repairs this year – with Rutland Middle School topping the list. But that’s a fraction of the money needed over the next five years.

“We have a long laundry list of things that we’d like to do,” Eileen Sadlowski, the school district’s secretary-treasurer told “It’s just a matter of picking away at them. Obviously a lot of things on that list are a ‘nice to have.’ They are on the list so we bring them up and discuss them every year, but we only have enough money to deal with the emergent.”

Over the last 14 years the Central Okanagn School District has received between $3.6 and $3.8 million a year from the province in what’s called an Annual Facilities Grant, except for 2009-2010 school year when it got nothing.

At its meeting Wednesday, March 13, the school board will be asked to approve the $3.8 million allocated by the province for 2019-2020. It had asked for about $19 million.

Number one on the list is $325,000 for a second floor washroom expansion at Rutland Middle School while number two is $350,000 to replace parts of the roof.

For years, the district has called for a rebuild of the entire school. It was recently told by the province that’s not going to happen any time soon so the board is determined to make improvements. The roof and washrooms were key needs. 

There have also been complaints about accessibility to the second floor of the school but that’s not in the budget for this year. An elevator would not solve the problem because there are varying levels to the 70-year-old school and not enough room for wheelchair ramps.

“Due to the age of the facility, it would require pretty significant upgrades to the existing structure,” Sadlowski said. “That could trigger other building code issues that could be pretty significant.”

Staff continue to work with the province to try to find solutions, she said.

There’s always the risk of running into asbestos if major work is done on an old building, she said. Testing was done for an upgrade to the sprinkler system and no asbestos was found.

There is also $250,000 in the budget for work on Canyon Falls Middle School which doesn’t open until September. These were items cut to meet the original construction budget but still deemed necessary for the new school.

The single largest project is just over $1 million to replace part of the roof on the 20-year-old Kelowna Secondary School.

Such roofs have life spans for 20 to 25 years, Sadlowski said, and the costs are so high that the school district can only ever replace parts of roofs.

“I can’t believe what it costs to replace a roof these days,” she said. “It’s insane.”

The school district’s five-year plan calls for $16 million in upgrades and repairs next year and $67 million over five years. If provincial funding stays below $4 million per year, those projects won’t get done for a very long time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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