Local school facilities in excellent shape according to Sask Rivers report

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

A report looking at the state of Saskatchewan Rivers School Division facilities shows that while the schools are being kept in excellent shape by the maintenance department because of effective planning.

At their regular meeting on Monday, April 12 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.

“Our division is applauded by others in terms of the management and care that we can do in our schools by Mike and his team efficiently. It is not just spending a bunch of money and getting great things done. It is spending some money and getting those things done,” director of education Robert Bratvold said.

He described the work by the department as prudent and effective.

“It’s carefully directed to places where it is going to have need but also effective in that it gets great results.”

Bratvold said the overall budget impact is still a challenge as the division’s buildings are between 14 and 113 years old.

“We do have individual buildings that have more significant needs than others. But the other part of that is things come up all of the time in terms of roofing repairs, there is boiler and HVAC system maintenance and upgrades, so those are ongoing not that they always come up at the same time but they are always ongoing,” he said.

This year’s report shows that Facilities or Plant Operations make up 14.81 percent of the budget in the division. Their $14.5 million budget and includes Preventative Maintenance and Renewal (PMR) funding and capital expenditures.

Hurd is responsible for preparing the detailed report each year.

The Ministry of Education provides funding through the PMR funding each year. The board approves a new PMR three-year plan each year in June.

The facilities budget is broken down into 44 per cent building operating expenses, 20 per cent amortization, 34 per cent salaries and two per cent other. Facilities currently employees 65 full time equivalent caretaking staff, 14 maintenance staff and three supervisors and support staff. Caretakers are assigned based on size of facilities.

According to Hurd, they are averaging about 250 service requests a month, these are reviewed quarterly to make sure targets are met. Service requests are submitted electronically through Asset Planner software by administration and caretakers.

The division also used COVID-19 contingency funding.

“We started the bottle fill stations and that was kind of through the COVID funding. We are replacing our water fountains in our schools with the refrigerated bottle fill stations.”

The stations cost $2,200 per unit according to Hurd, and the project is about two-thirds complete.

PMR projects are based on square footage of facilities. The division received $2,630,000 in 2019-2020.

He explained that boilers are replaced even if they are functional because it is a more prudent way to deal with the issues.

PMR investments included a new daycare at Ecole Arthur Pechey, new high efficiency boilers at Meath Park, numerous window replacements and other projects. The Arthur Pechey daycare was valued at $1.2 million and represented a large portion of PMR funding.

“You might ask why Arthur Pechey got such a big piece of that pie. That includes the daycare centre facility that we built there last year,” Hurd said.

The division wide LED project was a highlight for Hurd.

“We have the advantage of improving the lighting for our student learning as well as savings money at the same time,” Hurd said.

The project saw about $40,000 savings in January and Hurd is confident they will meet the savings goals of the program.

According to Hurd, the projects helped extend the overall life cycle of buildings by 30 years to 2055.