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Two Moose Jaw schools continue to operate at overcapacity, report shows

Prairie South trustees discussed the 2021-22 buildings accountability report during their recent meeting.
sunningdale elementary summer
Sunningdale School. File photo

Two schools in Prairie South School Division continued to operate over 100-per-cent capacity and 14 continued to operate under 50-per-cent capacity last year, leading one trustee to wonder whether portables would solve the overcapacity issue.

There are 31 schools in PSSD and the average space usage in the division is 58 per cent, according to the 2021-22 buildings accountability report presented during the recent board meeting. Twelve underused schools are rural, while the other two are Empire School (31 per cent) and Riverview Collegiate (19 per cent).

Meanwhile, the two schools that are overcapacity are King George School (102 per cent) and Sunningdale School (105 per cent). 

The space usage rate is based on a formula that uses kindergarten to Grade 12 enrolment as of Sept. 30 of a school year and a school’s capacity number, the report said. 

In schools where the Ministry of Education funds pre-kindergarten programming, those students are included in the ministry’s formula, although the formula does not consider division-funded pre-k programs. This results in lower usage rates in several schools.

Trustee Lew Young was concerned about the issues at Sunningdale and Riverview, while he also singled out several rural schools with space usage rates in the 20-per-cent range. He wondered what was happening in those buildings.

Sunningdale’s problem has increased to 107 per cent this year, based on new data from the ministry, said buildings manager Darren Baiton. The division has asked for portable classrooms at those two overcapacity schools, but there is a large bulge of similar requests provincewide.

Sunningdale would be eligible for a maximum of two portable classrooms because of site restrictions, he added. One classroom could be placed on the soccer field, while other portables must go on the north side because there is more space.

According to the buildings accountability report, the two oldest schools in the division are 113 years old, while the newest is seven years old. Meanwhile, the average age of schools is 66 years. 

Utility consumption

Prairie South used nearly 600,000 kilowatt hours (KWH) of electricity in 2021-22 and paid roughly $1,070,000 for that. Meanwhile, it consumed more than 2,050,000 cubic metres of natural gas (NG) and paid roughly $620,000.

In comparison, it used a similar amount of electricity in 2020-21 and consumed about 60,000 cubic metres less of NG in 2020-21. 

A.E. Peacock used the most electricity per day with over 2,000 KWH, while Riverview consumed the most natural gas per day at over 15 gigajoules. 

Infrastructure upgrades

The division annually conducts preventative roof inspections on one-third of its venues — there are 90,000 square metres (one million square feet) of roofing — and completes repairs to reduce future damage, the report said.

In 2021-22, Prairie South assessed the roofs of nine buildings, including the Ninth Avenue board office, Riverview, Sunningdale and William Grayson. 

Meanwhile, the division spent $1,649,230 on preventative maintenance and renewal (PMR) projects. Baiton noted that the organization had committed $2.9 million for PMR but had difficulty with contracts and material and labour costs. 

One PMR project included installing a modern HVAC system at A.E. Peacock Collegiate. 

The department has seen a positive effect in the temperature comfort zone at the school — 30 per cent of people wore shorts in the winter at one point — with the air exchange zone now perfect, said Baiton. Payback is occurring on the efficiency side, but the division is also running more fans and pumps there.

“Last year was a tricky year to compile data because we were flushing a lot of air into the buildings … just to get rid of stagnant air,” he added. 

Trustee Robert Bachmann thanked the buildings department for its work and for keeping the division functioning, especially since it received 8,620 maintenance tickets last year compared to 8,247 tickets in 2020-21. Staff also handled 2,005 routine asset service calls — proactive preventative maintenance — on top of those tickets.

The next PSSD meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 17. 

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