Schools may be closed this summer for learning but they’re far from idle as upwards of 65 school renewal and renovation projects are in place to ready them for the start of the new school year.
This July and August, more than $8.2-million in school renewal and condition projects are being undertaken, ranging from large-scale ventures like replacement HVAC units, roof repairs and playground improvements to more routine school maintenance projects, such as paving, electrical upgrades, replacement flooring and ceilings, and masonry work.
All are important and flow from the Board’s commitment to have well-maintained schools, says Chairperson Patrick J. Daly.
“As a result of the tremendous service of staff within our Corporate Services and Plant Departments, we have much to be thankful for and proud of with regard to the condition of our school facilities.”
The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board also has three capital projects in the works. These include replacement schools for St. Patrick and St. James the Apostle, and a new childcare centre at St. Thomas the Apostle in Waterdown.
New school facilities not only reflect the latest in design, construction, environmental and technological advances, but consider the needs of their respective communities, says Daly.
The new St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School, located at the corner of East Ave. and Main St., will include a dedicated childcare/EarlyON centre, community parent program, and a De Mazenod Centre. De Mazenod Door is an outreach program operated by St. Patrick’s Church that provides daily meals to the homeless in our community.
The new school, built at a cost of $13-million, is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year.
At St. James the Apostle Catholic Elementary School, the foundation and site services are well underway as crews work toward a Spring 2023 completion date. The $16.7-million, 590-pupil replacement school was identified in 2020 as a priority due to the pressure, growth and accommodation needs of the Upper Stoney Creek community. The design will incorporate three childcare rooms to serve young families in the area.
In more recent developments, in May 2021 the provincial government approved a childcare centre at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Elementary School in Waterdown. The $2.4-million addition will provide 49 additional child care spaces (3 additional childcare rooms) to provide choice and flexibility for working parents in the community. The childcare centre is expected to be completed in March 2023.
Better learning environments contribute to faith formation, and student achievement and well-being, says Daly.
“The board continues to invest in resources and facilities that provide the best opportunities for students and staff. This philosophy informs our annual accommodation review that looks at shifting demographics and declining enrolment to ensure that programs, facilities and resources continue to support student achievement.”
School renewal projects, which are designed to improve the condition of schools, are part of this annual review.
While $8.2-million may sound like a significant investment, it’s typical of summer spending, says Senior Facilities Manager Paul Ferrie. As with many industries during COVID-19, sourcing equipment for some of the HVAC projects proved to be particularly challenging this year. Due to the supply shortage, some projects have been deferred until next summer.
School renewal and conditions projects are funded through the annual Ministry grants for School Condition Improvement and School Renewal Allocation. Other projects, such as the outdoor Kindergarten/childcare centre playground expansions at St. Matthew, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. David and St. Bernadette, were funded through CVRIS (COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream) which, in 2020-2021, provided $10-million in ventilation funding for the board. The ventilation projects were one of the many public health and safety measures implemented by the Ministry of Education to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support healthier and safe learning environments for students and staff.
“Infrastructure investments not only keep our schools in good working order, but allow us to support 21st century learning needs and address facility-related issues, such as health and safety, energy efficiency, and school accessibility,” says Associate Director of Corporate Services, Paola Pace-Gubekjian.
“Our focus is on providing safe, welcoming and quality learning spaces for our students and staff.”