Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools anticipates receiving a similar amount of annual facilities grant money for 2020/21 as in 2019/20. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo school district uses contingency fund for emergency school repairs

Nanaimo district staff expect about $2.7 million as its annual facilities grant from the province

With Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ 2019-20 annual facilities grant-funded project list near completion, the school district dipped into contingency to repair a cooling system at Dover Bay Secondary School.

The B.C. government provides money to school districts every year to maintain school buildings and during the district March business committee presentation, Brian Hackwood, district assistant director of planning and operations, said the situation at Dover Bay was one of few unexpected situations requiring immediate attention.

The district received approximately $2.7 million in facilities grant money in 2019-20 and Hackwood said about 95 per cent of that has been spent. However, the district also has a “fairly large contingency,” totalling $283,131, to deal with “things that come up last minute.”

“At Dover Bay, the main chiller for the entire place failed and that was [a $99,069] job and that just came absolutely out of the blue and it was a 10-week order to get the part in and it’s all hands on deck,” Hackwood said. “All their computer labs had no cooling. The administration area had no cooling, the library had no cooling and we just had to react instantly to deal with this.”

Other emergent situations that occurred were boiler failure at Cedar Elementary School which cost $10,504 to repair. Roof-top heating unit replacement at Wellington Secondary School had a price tag of $7,500. The district also spent $80,406 on a broken fire alarm at Georgia Avenue Elementary School.

“For three weeks we had to stand a guard in there, so we have to have somebody in the building when we have a fire alarm down, so somebody had to sit in that building … every night while the fire alarm was down,” said Hackwood. “So that contingency really allows us to react quickly to this sort of issue.”

According to the school district, “status quo [annual facilities grant] funding for 2020-21” of $2.73 million is anticipated, minus $47,298 going to capital asset management services.

A little more than one-third of the 2020-21 grant money (or $939,011) will be spent on roof work, with a $266,000 expenditure at Uplands Park and $260,400 at Cedar Elementary, according to the report. Among other projects, work on a canopy at the Island ConnectEd facility ($30,000) and portable roof work at École North Oyster ($40,000).

The district will also spend $75,000 on remediation for lead in drinking water.

RELATED: SD68 starts from scratch, testing water for lead

RELATED: Island schools see $15M in upgrades

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