Replacing Cedar Elementary is one of the top capital project priorities. File photo –Campbell River Mirror

New Cedar Elementary remains priority for Board of Education

School was built in 1958 and is among the district’s buildings in the poorest condition

A new Cedar Elementary School remains at the top of the Board of Education’s wish list.

At more than 60 years old, it’s one of the buildings in the Campbell River School District with the poorest condition, Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board at the virtual school board meeting on June 16.

But the replacement process can take a long time, especially for school districts outside of the South Island, metro Vancouver, or the Okanagan Valley, he said.

The K-5 school has been a funding priority for the board for the past few years and even underwent a seismic mitigation review earlier this year. The review identified required work budgeted at nearly $4 million.

The district said the board had been advised that if a seismic upgrade to the school was deemed an unnecessary investment due to the condition of the building, it would build the district’s case with the province of having the school replaced.

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In the district’s 2015-2025 Facility Plan, published in 2015, Cedar Annex and Cedar School have among the poorest condition assessments for all of the district’s buildings. The annex building is located just north of the school and is leased to the Laichwiltach Family Life Society.

The report uses the Facilities Condition Index (FCI) which is a comparative indicator of the relative condition of the buildings. It’s expressed as a percentage of the cost of remedying maintenance deficiencies to the current replacement value. A rating between 0.30 and 0.60 is considered poor, while anything above 0.60 is considered very poor. Cedar Annex receives a score of 0.58, while Cedar School is listed at 0.53.

The enrolment forecast predicts that the school will approach capacity in 2021, meet it in 2022 and be over capacity in 2023 and 2024.

RELATED: A new Cedar Elementary still at top of Campbell River district’s wish list

The board has made presentations to the last two education ministers to advocate for a new building.

“Despite the heroic efforts of our maintenance people, it gets to the point where it’s just very difficult to keep up with the deterioration. This is a place that really needs to be re-done,” said Board Vice-Chair John Kerr. “I’m really hoping that we can get this thing going.”

Their case is also supported by the new strategic plan. Priority two is to “build a culture of learning and wellness” as school environments have an impact on student learning.

“The learning environment definitely has an impact on learning and instruction in the school,” said Patrick.

The third priority is to “honour Indigenous world views and perspectives.”

The district reports that 20 per cent of its student population is Indigenous. At Cedar, approximately half of the students are Indigenous.

“We’re honouring those learners by working very hard to build a facility for them that is built in consultation with Aboriginal Indigenous leaders in Campbell River,” said Board Chair Richard Franklin. “We want to make the new Cedar School a place where everyone is welcome, but especially a place where Indigenous students see this as a place where they feel comfortable and an integral part of the school.”

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Many projects submitted to province

Every year in June, school districts across the province submit their capital plans for the upcoming academic year to the Ministry of Education.

The district can apply under different funding streams including the Seismic Mitigation Program, Expansion Program, School Enhancement Program, Carbon Neutral Capital Program, Playground Equipment Program and the School Bus Replacement Program.

The district’s top two priorities in the Seismic Mitigation Program are Cedar Elementary for a total of $3,820,000 and Cedar Annex at $3,300,000.

Ripple Rock Elementary and Ocean Grove Elementary are listed under the Expansion Program, each for a two-room expansion at $2,200,000 apiece.

The School Maintenance Program is for standard maintenance requests, said Patrick. The district has submitted nine priorities. The top three include Cedar Annex for a $280,000 roof replacement, Penfield Elementary for a $975,000 roof replacement and Carihi Secondary for a $248,000 boiler replacement.

The school district pays a carbon tax to the government every year and receives money back, which helps fund the Carbon Neutral Capital Program. Boiler replacements at Carihi Secondary ($248,000) and Ripple Rock Elementary ($133,000) and replacing building controls at Robron Centre for $289,290 are the three projects listed.

Finally, Georgia Park Elementary and Pinecrest Elementary are included under the Playground Equipment Program for $90,000 playground replacements.

Patrick said the district should know by next April what projects the province approves.

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