Public school board given update on its capital projects

Sam Odrowski

The public school board currently is working on several capital projects throughout the district, with some of them slated for completion this fall.
Plant operations and maintenance manager Travis Enge gave a brief verbal update of the projects at the Rainy River District School Board’s regular meeting earlier this month.
In Rainy River, where the RRDSB currently has plans to build a K-12 facility, the board has submitted a cost estimate and is waiting for “approval to proceed” from the ministry of education.
“The project is ready to go,” Enge said. “Once the ministry gives it the approval to proceed, then we will put it to tender and get going on that project.”
Preliminary estimates indicate the project will cost roughly $15.7 million, when including the child-care facility that also is being built there.
The project has a three-phase approach. First, the north wing of the school will be renovated to accommodate high school students while the new administration area across the science labs will be renovated, as well.
High school students and staff will be in the south wing of the school while using the existing administration space.
This phase of the project is expected to take four-six months.
The second phase, also expected to take four-six months, will see the south wing of the school renovated to accommodate elementary students.
As such, high school students and staff will move into the north wing and begin using the new administration space.
For phase three, elementary students will move into the newly-renovated elementary spaces while Riverview School is demolished to make room for the construction of a large gym and child-care centre.
The existing gym also will be renovated into a new student common space.
This phase of the project is expected to take eight-10 months.
“For the actual opening date, the soonest for everything to be done would be for the 2020 school year,” Enge noted.
“We’re waiting for our approval to proceed but once we get our tenders back, we’ll have a much better idea of when the contractors say they can build it by,” he added.
At Donald Young School in Emo, meanwhile, the renovations being done to the gym are nearly complete.
“We ran into some major sewer line issues when we started our renovation last fall and that caused some great delays and we lost our momentum on the project,” Enge said.
“But things are moving along quite quickly now,” he remarked. “They were just working on things like fire alarm and safety items this week.”
“We’re confident for an April occupancy,” Enge added. “They’re just waiting on the delivery of a couple minor items.”
The gym renovation project was budgeted at $3.6 million and began last July.
Enge said they also plan on building a child-care centre at the backside of the gym. So once the renovations are complete and the cost estimates are finalized, they can seek approval from the ministry and move forward on that project.
The child-care centre has been budgeted for $2.4 million and the soonest it could be completed by is September, 2020.
As well, the RRDSB has plans to upgrade Donald Young School’s playground equipment.
A few years ago, funding was received to revitalize playgrounds across the board and most schools already have received the upgrades, except DYS.
“We’ve been unable to move forward with that playground revitalization because we were building the new school wing out front and then we moved into a gym renovation,” Enge explained.
“Back in the fall of 2017, we started work on what we wanted that playground to look like but because of the gym renovation, we put it on hold.”
The architect is working on the playground plan and will be presenting it to the board’s building committee in the coming weeks.
The budget for this project is $600,000 and Enge hopes to have it built for this September.
“That will be a great improvement for the school and for staff and students,” he noted.
“They’ve been waiting for a few years, patiently waiting, and we’re excited to get that going and have that ready to go for this fall school year.”
When looking to the plans for a child-care centre at Robert Moore School here in Fort Frances, Enge said they completed their design and it came in significantly over budget.
Due to budget constraints, the board has looked to alternative options to find a solution.
“What we’ve decided to do is a boundary review, where we’re looking at moving the Grade 7 and 8s from Robert Moore . . . to the high school to join the 7 and 8s from J.W Walker School,” Enge said.
“That review has started,” he noted. “There’s a waiting period and I don’t have exact dates, but there will be a public consultation coming up.
“Once the public consultation is done, administration will recommend a course of action to the board and then the board will decide whether or not we go forward with the boundary change.”
If the boundary review does go forward, the board then will look to bring the child-care centre into Robert Moore School using existing space with the Grade 7 and 8s gone.
Renovations for the project would be light and the board would be able to open the child-care centre at Robert Moore for the 2019-20 school year, Enge said.
Lastly, Enge said progress is being made on planning the construction of a K-12 school in Atikokan.
At a building committee meeting held Feb. 26, the architect for the school presented the floor plans and exterior views of the design process to date.
Because the project has been mapped out in a computer program, those at the meeting got a really good feel for what the building will look like when it’s completed, Enge explained.
Administration is waiting for a finalized “Class C” cost estimate to be completed so a budget review can be performed to assess the results and address any implications it may have.
The building is scheduled to open for September, 2020 and total funding for the project, with HST included, is just over $23 million.