Facilities in excellent shape in Sask Rivers Division

Saskatchewan Rivers School Board director of education Robert Bratvold answers a question at the 2016 AGM.

A report looking at the state of Saskatchewan Rivers School Division facilities shows that while the schools are aging, they’re not in poor enough shape to warrant provincial attention.

At their regular meeting on Monday, April 6 the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division received their annual Accountability Report on Facilities in the division. The report is prepared by Superintendent of Facilities Mike Hurd who oversees the buildings in the division and provides an update on a number of subjects.

This year’s report shows that Facilities or Plant Operations make up 14.46 percent of the budget in the division.  Director of education Robert Bratvold credits Hurd and his team for keeping the facilities in excellent shape.

“I would say a couple of things I think our caretaking and maintenance team, and this sound clichéd, but they do a fabulous job, superintendent Mike Hurd is the head of that department and he does just amazing work,” Bratvold said.

Hurd is responsible for preparing the detailed report each year.

“He is gifted in so many ways because he is a journeyperson tradesperson and has amazing mechanical and construction skills and tremendous leadership ability with the team,” he explained.

Bratvold also credits the rest of the team including the caretaking manager and maintenance manager.

The Ministry of Education  also provides funding through the Preventative Maintenance and Renewal Funding each year. The board approves a new PMR three year plan each year in June.

 “The second thing that has been very helpful is in the last number of years there has been an increasing provincial grant that is part of the school division operating fund that is Preventative Maintenance and Renewal (PMR) so that’s a very positive thing that enables us to maintain our buildings to a better degree with dedicated funding than we were able to before in which we had to allocate funds from our operations,” Bratvold said.

PMR projects include roof replacement in gymnasium and change rooms at Spruce Home and Big River High, roof replacement in east and west wings at Wild Rose, replacement of air handling units at Meath Park, refurbishing of the floor in the Red Gym at Carlton Comprehensive and other projects across the division.

One challenge in the division is that while buildings may be well maintained, many are over 100 years old.

“ If you look near the end talking about the facility cost index, what it would cost to keep our facilities operating at a reasonable level. That is a challenge knowing that one of the figures that we put in, we put about $4 million a year into the maintenance area of our budget and it would take about $7.5 or $8 million to completely ensure our facilities don’t reach that critical area at any point,” Bratvold said.

One problem that Bratvold noted is that the facilities are maintained to such a degree that when the division places their top three buildings for replacement in with the province each year they can never make the threshold for building replacement.

“Because our facilities are maintained to such a high degree they don’t enter into that health and safety or in that dilapidated condition that trigger provincial capital renewal. We submit our top three projects every year and we have not yet made the Top 10 in the province. We haven’t been on the radar to reach that provincial funding for a major renovation or the replacement of a school. And we have a couple of them that certainly would be essential to do some work in,” he explained.