Students at Central Collegiate have not been able to use their gym since school began in September because contractors have been removing asbestos from the building.
Prairie South School Division issued a tender worth $1,095.041 to C&S Builders in late June to perform asbestos abatement. That work began right after school finished and is expected to finish by the start of October.
Trustees with Prairie South discussed the project — and the size of the tender — during their recent board meeting.
The board office has heard from some parents about this project and their concerns about the gym being out of commission, said Ron Purdy, superintendent of business. He acknowledged that this situation is “horrible timing for students,” considering they have lost their gym during the pandemic.
Trustee Shawn Davidson pointed out that the tender was large and wondered if it exceeded the project budget. Purdy replied that the cost was above what the division received in provincial funding. Furthermore, the $1 million is the value of the contract, while the architectural consultant’s work pushed the amount over.
“That exceeds the budget. When that happens, it needs to come to us for approval,” Davidson stated. “That did not happen here.”
Davidson pointed to a paragraph in Board Policy 2 that governs spending, reiterating that division employees must bring projects forward for approval if the tender is overbudget.
“When a tender that big comes across my desk, I go, ‘Oooh!’” he said. “We should have been talking about that.”
Several projects in the past came in over budget, and the board had to determine whether to proceed or re-tender, Davidson added. Those decisions helped save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The board did not approve this project in the budget since the provincial government provided $1 million in emergent funding, which allowed administration to pursue the initiative, said Purdy.
“Again, that’s splitting hairs … . (It) still falls under the same fiscal accountability umbrella to me,” replied Davidson.
This project was approved at the end of June — weeks after the board meeting — because there was an urgency to move quickly on this, said education director Ryan Boughen.
Based on that same board policy, division administration should have called a meeting — whether in person or online — so trustees could determine how to proceed, said trustee Crystal Froese. Furthermore, the contract for the architect should have been tendered separately.
“I’m not quite sure how the architect quite fits into that process,” she added, “or what line item that falls in under budget … . We need to separate the two.”
Division administration awarded 13 contracts for $3.32 million from May 27 to Aug. 31, such as:
- Don’s Plumbing and Heating won a tender to replace ducts at Bengough School for $177,777.96
- CDW won a quote to install interactive TVs at Prince Arthur School for $17,485
- All ‘n’ All Construction Inc. won a tender to replace a concrete slab at Glentworth School for $135,958
- C&S Builders won the tender to replace the floor in the A.E. Peacock Collegiate electrical room for $37,308
- Direct Energy won a five-year contract to provide natural gas to Prairie South for $1.3 million
- McColman and Sons Demolition won a tender to perform asbestos abatement at Lindale School for $294,000
- Linde Canada won the contract to provide welders at Peacock for $29,937
Division administration also spent $117,856 to purchase two used wheelchair buses from Warner Industries. This project was not tendered out since the vehicles were needed quickly, said Purdy.
The next PSSD board meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 5.