Prairie Post (East Edition)

Small deficit for Chinook School Division’s 2021-22 facilities and maintenanc­e budget

- By Matthew Liebenberg mliebenber­g@prairiepos­t.com

The Chinook School Division’s facilities and maintenanc­e budget had a small deficit for the 2021-22 financial period.

Manager of Transporta­tion and Facilities Kevin Jones provided details about the various activities carried out by facilities and maintenanc­e staff at a regular meeting of the Chinook Board of Education, Oct. 11.

The 2021-22 facilities and maintenanc­e budget was $11,597,740. Operationa­l expenses were $5.6 million, salaries and benefit costs were about $3.4 million and amortizati­on expenses were $2.4 million. There was a deficit of $412,000 on Aug. 31, which is three per cent of the overall budget.

“It’s due to inflationa­ry costs that happened,” he said. “Heating costs went up and we were a little bit over on our salaries. We don’t like to have a deficit, but fortunatel­y it was a small deficit.”

The Chinook School Division receives annual funding from the Ministry of Education’s Preventati­ve Maintenanc­e and Repair (PMR) program to assist with maintenanc­e of facilities. This program started 10 years ago and these projects are usually valued at under $1 million. The funding amount allocated to each school division is based on the total gross area of all schools.

The 2021-22 PMR funding budget was $2,262,053 and the actual amount spent was $1,946,364. The PMR funding reserves on Aug. 31 was $3,520,340. The school division received PMR funding of $2,467,000 for the 2022-23 year.

“That’s our largest funding source to maintain all our buildings,” he said. “So we’re very fortunate to have that, and then we had around $300,000 of minor renovation money that we use in-house to do repairs.”

An amount of $292,000 was budgeted in 2021-22 for minor renovation projects and 83 per cent of those projects are completed. All the materials have been ordered for the remaining 17 per cent and those renovation­s will also take place.

Work requisitio­ns for repair work at schools will vary from year to year, and more work orders are typically received from larger schools.

“It’s difficult to establish trends, because these requests continuall­y change as needs and breakdowns occur, especially in the mechanical, plumbing and electrical areas,” he said.

There were 2,514 service requests from schools in the past year. From Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022 a total of 2,657 service requests were completed.

“So actually, this was the first year ever that we completed more work order requests than what came in,” he noted. “We always have about a 300 to 400 work order backlog. ... I’m really proud of the maintenanc­e department for the work that they did this year.”

The maintenanc­e department uses a facility condition index chart to evaluate and rate the condition of school buildings. This index uses baseline data that were created when all Chinook schools were originally rated in 2005.

“Our goal is to get all our schools to a rating of 80 per cent,” he said. “This goal is not achievable for all facilities through the efforts of the maintenanc­e department alone. In some cases, this goal will only be achieved or reached through the support of capital projects.”

Ongoing maintenanc­e efforts made it possible to increase the overall rating of 27 out of 29 schools during the past 17 years. The overall rating of 24 schools increased by more than five per cent since 2005.

Jones referred to some statistics, which indicate that 12 schools have achieved a rating of 80 per cent or higher, eight schools have a rating of 75 per cent or above, and eight schools are at 70 per cent or above.

“The average increase in the condition of all Chinook school facilities is 10.64 per cent over the past 17 years,” he said. “Each year the building envelope, landscapin­g, mechanical systems and interior finishes, including doors, windows and flooring, get one year older in their life cycle, which directly impacts these ratings.”

An ongoing project that will result in operationa­l cost savings for facilities is the conversion of lighting to LED technology.

“That’s an initiative we’ve been going after aggressive­ly the past five years,” he said.

Different types of lighting are used in school building, of which fluorescen­t tube lights are very common. The replacemen­t of these tubes with LED tubes results in significan­t energy savings.

“We’re seeing up to 70 or 75 per cent savings on electrical consumptio­n by moving to these LED tubes,” he said. “So it’s been a really good project to save money.”

Over 1,000 lights were changed out at several schools from September 2021 to August 2022. There will be a net energy saving of $8,500 on the lights that were upgraded to LED over the past year.

“Estimated annual electrical savings from the upgrades that occurred in the past five years is $59,000,” he said. “These cost savings continue to grow as the price of electricit­y increases and more upgrades are completed.”

The maintenanc­e department will continue with projects to upgrade all lighting in Chinook facilities to LED.

“All of our largest power consumptio­n areas like gymnasiums, exterior lighting and hallways have been done,” he said. “So now we move into classrooms and we’re about 75 per cent through with all the classrooms in the division. So we’re well on our way to get everything updated to LED.”

Jones reported that repairs work on two insurance claim projects are completed. Both incidents occurred at the Swift Current Comprehens­ive High School.

A leak on a heating waterline in December 2021 caused damage to floors, personal belongings, instructio­nal materials, light fixtures, suspended ceilings, and tiles. There was a canopy fire at the school’s west entrance in March 2022 that caused damage to roof flashings, metal cladding, flooring, paint, ceiling, lights and entrance electrical components.

He referred to the recent fire at Stewart Valley School on Aug. 26 and noted that the building is a total loss. The insurance amount is still to be determined.

“We’re waiting to hear back from the insurer,” he said. “They’re doing their consulting on their end and once they put their report together, they’ll forward that to our board.”

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