Office upgrades possible

Constructed more than 40 years ago, the board office of the Vernon School District is long overdue for an overhaul

Constructed more than 40 years ago, the board office of the Vernon School District is long overdue for an overhaul.

With only minor renovations completed over the years, the office has always fallen low on the priority list, behind new schools and upgrades to existing schools.

At Wednesday’s district board meeting, maintenance supervisor John Tompson outlined some of ways the building might be improved.

“We have a couple of drawings for you to take a look at, a few options as to how we might renovate,” said Tompson, showing examples in a PowerPoint presentation. “It’s not going to be the Taj Mahal of buildings, we’re just adding on to the box we already have.”

The proposals take into account the lack of accessibility in the current building. There are no washrooms for staff in the portables on the property or in the board room. As well, there are a number of B.C. Building Code deficiencies, including the existing floor fire separation, the exit stairwell and handicap accessibility.

“There is also no space to have an administrators’ meeting during the school year, and there are some functional challenges in the existing building, but a lot of it is in the mechanical systems.”

The HVAC system is in particularly bad shape, with the roof-top units likely the oldest on any school facility in the Okanagan.

“We will hopefully get the development application in by September,” said Tompson.

The new addition is projected to be about 500 square metres, with the cost for the entire renovation and addition to be about $4.1 million

“At some point, we would start fine-tuning the estimate to make sure we are on budget. We will confirm the project budget once we have detailed designs,” he said. “Early next spring we would be able to tender the project. The office can be operated while it’s being built because we will never have a window of time when we can get in there and renovate.”

Board chairperson Bill Turanski reminded trustees of the time Premier Christy Clark was minister of education and made the comment that Vernon’s board office was the worst she had ever seen.

“We’re going to lose our notoriety of having the worst board room in the province,” he said.