DYS to get new wing

Heather Latter

Plans are moving along for a new classroom wing to be built at Donald Young School in Emo.
Administration and staff have been working closely with members of LM Architectural Group on the design, with the project expected to go to tender in August and break ground in September.
“Just the design phase and working through the budget has slowed us up a little bit but we’re optimistic that we are still on track,” said Travis Enge, manager of plant operations and maintenance for the Rainy River District School Board.
“We should be able to get construction done and get moved in before the start of the 2016-17 school year,” he added.
The K-8 school was deemed “prohibitive to repair” back in 2003 and has had few updates done over the last decade.
After board trustees voted against administration’s recommendation to consolidate Donald Young, Crossroads, and Sturgeon Creek schools back in February, 2014, they agreed to proceed with an investigation into the DYS renovation project.
It ultimately was decided a rebuild of the school’s main classroom wing was in its best interest.
Enge said the new wing will house seven classrooms, a new administration area, library, staff room, bathrooms, a special education room, a resource room, a speech therapy room, a circle room, and a mechanical and electrical room.
“The goal isn’t to make a bigger school,” he stressed, though adding they aren’t making it smaller.
In fact, despite a projected declining enrolment, the school actually will end up larger.
“The goal wasn’t to get a net increase,” Enge remarked. “But at the end of the day, the building is going to be about 5,000 square feet larger.”
He also said they’ve even kept in mind room for expansion.
“If situations change in the area and we need to build on, we will be able to build to the northwest,” Enge noted.
The new wing will be built directly in front of the existing one.
“We’re going to be pretty close during construction,” Enge warned but stressed safety will be a top priority.
“There will be a barricade between the two buildings,” he said.
“It will be a construction zone so it will be very clear where the contractors are and . . . where staff, students, and the public can be,” he added.
Enge said some of the design plans recently had changed due to the Class ‘C’ cost estimate coming in over budget.
“From there, we were able to reduce the cost of the building by changing some finishes and modifying the type of building structure we’ll have, but without changing any of the programming,” he explained.
“All the spaces are still going to be the same,” he pledged. “In fact, the building will be slightly larger now, believe it or not.”
For instance, they were looking at having a larger student commons area with a raised roof. But to be more cost-effective, they’ve taken out the high ceiling.
“But the architect is still working on a concept using the library, which is right beside where the commons is going to be, and having a glazed feature so we can still get natural light in there,” Enge noted.
“We’re trying to get what we were originally looking for by doing other things with the spaces to make them bright and welcoming.”
Enge said the existing library in the old section will revert back to a classroom.
“There will be two classrooms in the older section across from the gym and we’ll have seven new classrooms, including two Early Years classrooms,” he noted.
“We’re envisioning that Early Years up to Grade 6 will be in the new section and then Grade 7-8 will be in the older section.
“And we’re going to look at refreshing those spaces after we get the new wing done to make it look newer over there, as well,” Enge added.
He said the old section will be connected to the new wing by an extended hallway, which also will become the school’s new main entrance as the administrative offices will be located inside to the right.
“One of the reasons we didn’t renovate the old section was because of layout,” Enge remarked.
“When you build a school nowadays, you do put in a little more administration,” he noted.
“It was a pretty small admin area for the size of the school and so now we’ll have a more modern school.”
In fact, the classrooms in the new wing at DYS are being modelled after the last couple of school builds they’ve done, such as at Robert Moore and Mine Centre.
“And we put a lot of thought into the two Early Years rooms,” Enge stressed.
“Both get access from the hall, but also have their own exit onto the playground area.”
After the new wing is built and operational, the old section will be demolished as soon as practicable after that.
And even if it’s not ready for September, 2016, they can remain in the old school as it will remain functional.
“If it’s not ready in September, it’ll be very shortly thereafter,” Enge said.
“We’ll pick a weekend and move everything over.”
The site plan also includes parking and accommodations to facilitate a “Kiss ’n Ride” program at DYS.
“This was a good option to renew what we have there,” Enge reasoned.
“I’m really happy with it.”