The school board has passed a five-year plan, which would see $3,354,000 spent on upgrading Tahayghen in Masset, but trustees are really hoping the province will decide to replace the school, estimated to cost only about $600,000 more.
The ministry requires the board to submit a plan to upgrade the school-built in 1969-to meet current standards regarding earthquakes, as well as heating and electrical services. But because the required seismic upgrading is so costly (over $2.8-million), the total cost is close to the $3.9-million building a new school would cost.
Although parts of the school were seismically upgraded two years ago, this year’s audit pointed out that a number of things remain to be done, including reinforcement of footings and beams, bracing walls in the main level and upgrading the roof.
“At some point (the ministry) will send another audit team out and they will decide. We have to go through the process to submit a new capital plan,” maintenance supervisor Bill Wiggins told the board. He also said the audit, done in August, showed that Tahayghen, which was built for 450 students but today has just 153, “is a high-risk, which means there could be a lot of damage” (in an earthquake) but that it probably would not fall down. “There are still a lot of things wrong with it” he said.
“I am driven by one factor, safety of our kids,” board chair Andreas Uttendorfer said, “two years, maybe five before that building is seismically sound, that worries me, it really does.”
Port Clements trustee Maggie Bell Brown asked if the board could just request that a new school be built, or if Dawson and Tahayghen could be combined. Mr. Wiggins said the five-year plan has to be submitted, and the seismic component has to be part of it, and that asking the province to build a new school is not possible. He also said that when provincial officials see that a new school is worth only $600,000 more, they might decide that way.
Ms Bell Brown then said that if it was required, she would move that the board submit the plan. The motion passed unanimously.
Whatever the province decides, the money comes as a capital grant from Victoria, and does not affect year to year operations of the school board.
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