More open learning spaces are among features of the new addition at Frank J. Ney Elementary School.
With Rutherford Elementary School closed at the end of last school year, the new wing was built at Ney Elementary to accommodate displaced students. It features 10 new classrooms, which have doubled the size of the school, according to Nanaimo Ladysmith school district. Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, said the build was completed on time and budget. The total budget was about $6.6 million and the project came in approximately $350,000 under, he said.
“Because of the site constraints and the nature of the soils, we decided to go for a two-storey addition,” said Sabo. “What we wanted to do was mirror the floors, so in fact for efficiency of construction and minimization of additional space … we have a two-storey with five classrooms up and five classrooms below. A basic woodframe construction on the building and durable exterior siding, etc. …
We upscaled in a sense from a standard heating system because we got a more efficient, more comfortable system for it and we think it’s going to be a little bit more durable.”
The B.C. Ministry of Education has introduced new curriculum and 21st-century learning concepts and the new build adheres to that, said Jacquie Poulin, school principal.
“We have some open learning spaces,” said Poulin. “We have one at the end of the hall, we have one downstairs in the foyer, upstairs we have those open learning spaces, our classrooms are all kind of grouped by grades, so you have collaboration across the hallway, next door, just a couple of steps down. We have a couple of more student support spaces in regards to small group work … it allows that flexibility. It actually gives us a little more space.”
According to Poulin, students from Rutherford are fitting in.
“The Rutherford students who have come in, have come in with an open mind, willing to take a look at the new place,” said Poulin. “Our Frank Ney students have welcomed Rutherford students in and we also had a number of students who came from other communities, just naturally.… I would say, generally speaking, our students are just settling in as a new Frank Ney community.”
Tania Brzovic, current school trustee who was previously responsible for Rutherford, lauded Poulin and staff for making the new students feel welcome.
“It was a tough move for some families, but I think that we’ve done a lot of good work to make it as smooth as possible and to support people in the transition,” said Brzovic. “I think [having a] bus has been incredibly helpful. I’ve heard from many, many people that being able to have the bus to get here took a bit of the sting off of it. Just because the parents and the families at Rutherford were a very tight-knit community and it’s hard because some came here, some went to McGirr, some went to Randerson, so it feels like this dispersal and people are missing each other.”