Sask. Rivers facilities in good shape despite aging infrastructure according to report

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

A new report looking at the state of Saskatchewan Rivers School Division facilities shows that the schools are being kept in good shape by the maintenance department despite aging infrastructure.

April 10 the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board received their annual Accountability Report on Facilities at their regular meeting on Monday, April 10. The report shows that Facilities or Plant Operations make up 14.49 per cent of the budget in the division. Their $14.2 million budget and includes Preventative Maintenance and Renewal (PMR) funding and capital expenditures.

Education Director Robert Bratvold said the overall budget impact is still a challenge as the division’s buildings are between 14 and 113 years old. Over half of the buildings were constructed prior to 1970 while the remaining buildings were built between 1970 and 2012.

Bratvold credited Superintendent of Facilities Mike Hurd, who prepared the report and his staff for keeping the buildings in good condition.

“We have one of the oldest average ages of the buildings in our system that’s schools from 1900 and 1910, 1920s and lots from the 1960s and they are in fantastic shape,” Bratvold said. “Mike compliments his team and the board recognizes that and also appreciates Mike’s skills and leadership in that facilities work.”

Hurd is responsible for preparing the detailed report each year.

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

The facilities budget is broken down into 43 per cent building operating expenses, 19 per cent amortization, 36 per cent salaries and two per cent other. Facilities currently employees 65 full time equivalent caretaking staff, 14 maintenance staff and four supervisors and support staff. Caretakers are assigned based on size of facilities. For example, Carlton has three full time staff assigned due to the size of the building.

Bratvold said they’re going to spread their maintenance funding across the division, rather than focus on a few specific buildings or areas.

“We try to be quite consistent, it’s true. Sometimes there is a little bit more demand in some area than another. Amortization is one of those things that shifts a little bit depending on the age of the facilities and that kind of stuff, but our staff is relatively stable in terms of the numbers of maintenance staff and caretakers. Sometimes there is a little bit of adjustment there but it’s pretty straight forward,” Bratvold said.

According to Hurd, they are averaging about 230 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 service requests that’s nearly constant, like the numbers of requests we get from schools on an average month is that 230 to 250 every month the team receives that number of requests and takes care of them,” Bratvold said.

“Mike compliments his team on the great work that they do and that’s certainly what is recognized by the board, they certainly appreciate the work that the caretakers and maintenance staff do to keep our schools in really top shape,” Bratvold said.

PMR projects are based on square footage of facilities. The division received $2,642,171 in 2021-2022.

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 window replacement at PACI and replacement of heating systems at John Diefenbaker Public School among others.