When students and teachers leave the classroom in June, the maintenance crew gets to work fixing, polishing and renovating at elementary and secondary schools throughout the Vernon School District.
Director of facilities Jerry Westby has provided school trustees with an update of the capital funding projects that were done this summer.
At Fulton, an issue with busing and traffic conflicts resulted in separating the parking lot to make it safer for students. The gym at Fulton has also been equipped with LED lights, with Kal slated to get them later this year.
“They’re an energy saver and the maintenance is less because you don’t have to go in and change bulbs all the time because they apparently last forever,” said Westby. “And they’ve proven themselves.”
Flooring in district schools is always a priority, with more than $100,000 spent so far on upgrading flooring in the schools, including W.L. Seaton.
“Now here’s the biggie, at Okanagan Landing we tapped into two funding sources, so in the School Enhancement Program (SEP) they are a little tighter with their rules, but we did the HVAC, the lighting, the ceilings, the geothermal systems, irrigation.”
Earlier this year, the district was approved for funding of $1,440,000 for a complete upgrade to the mechanical system at Okanagan Landing, through the Ministry of Education’s SEP, which helps school districts repair, upgrade and improve facilities and extend the life of their schools.
Thanks to annual facilities grant funding, Okanagan Landing also received roofing, flooring, interior upgrades, interior and exterior doors, interior and exterior paint.
“It’s now brought it to where if you walked into it, it would look like one of our newer buildings,” said Westby. “Okanagan Landing was on the books 14 years ago so to get that all bundled like that was a huge deal; it would be nice to do them all like that but I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen.”
Seaton also received HVAC work, with all of the duct work in the school undergoing a thorough cleaning.
“We try and do two schools a year so this year Seaton and BX got it,” said Westby. “Something else we like to do on an annual basis is resurface our gym floors, so Ellison was due. It seems like Ellison was just built but it’s been 20 years now. At Coldstream we had to redo that one — it was a warranty job.”
Harwood, Alexis Park and Okanagan Landing are looking particularly bright these days, thanks to the fresh coats of exterior paint on the schools.
“We’ve got three full-time painters right now and we hired one extra one and a helper and these guys painted three exteriors between the beginning of May and the end of September; it was amazing what they got done.
“With interior upgrades, it’s one of those ‘why are you doing washrooms?’ But in actual fact, the piping inside the wall rots. We go in and do them, so they’re good for another 20 years.”
Still to come are closed-circuit security cameras at Kal, one more interior paint at Hillview and a few more washrooms, including one at Beairsto that hasn’t been upgrade in 50 years.
“And of course planning has already started for next year,” said Westby.
“On an annual basis we’ll go to each facility and meet with administration and sometimes we get others involved and then our guys, custodial staff and everybody is building the backbone on a continuous basis so if it doesn’t really fall into a fix and repair, it becomes a budget issue. It’s just a continuum — we have a 10-year wish list. Other school districts are quite jealous of the amount of money that we’ve got in the last year, so that makes me feel good.”