In the story ‘Granisle school revitalization won’t be completed till springtime’ published in the Lakes District News’ Feb. 25, 2015 issue, Babine Elementary-Secondary School’s revitalization project was expected to be completed by the spring of 2015.
The revitalized school officially opened Oct. 23, 2015, over a year after its original completion date, which was September 2014.
Back in February 2015, Manu Madhok, Director of Instruction for School District No. 91, explained that the delay had much to do with “supply and demand issues currently within the trades/construction sector and the economic activity within the region.”
School District No. 91 was not able to provide the final cost of the project by press time. Back in June 2015, Madhok said the school district was expecting the revitalization project to be approximately five per cent over the total project costs, which would equate to approximately $400,000.
The ministry of education provided $5.28 million for the project while School District 91 (Nechako Lakes) committed $2 million.
The revitalization project, which started in September 2013, included demolishing about 60 per cent of the school and replacing education space with five modern modular classrooms, which feature a bright, open design with high ceilings. The project also included renovating the library, the multipurpose area and kitchen and connecting the modulars to the school.
The design and layout of the school is intended to support learning by including a variety of flexible learning environments from large open spaces to small one-on-one counseling rooms.
Although the revitalized school has a capacity of 95 students – 20 kindergarten, 50 elementary and 25 secondary students -, there are currently 33 students enrolled.
The kindergarten to grade 12 school opened its doors in 1967 to accommodate Granisle’s then rapidly growing population. The original Babine Elementary-Secondary School had a capacity of 40 kindergarten, 250 elementary and 325 secondary students. At one point, the school had approximately 500 students.
“It was an older facility that hadn’t got any renovations [in 40 years] and it was due for an upgrade,” said school’s vice-principal Dylan Watt.
Given declining enrolment rates and the building’s deteriorating condition, newly designed modular classrooms were determined as the best solution to revitalize the school. According to the ministry of education, modular classrooms have a 40-year life span and are a more permanent solution to creating school space, compared to portables.
Charlene Seguin, School District 91 Superintendent, said Babine Elementary-Secondary school has played a major role in the lives of residents from Granisle and Tachet for many years.
“It is our hope that this beautiful facility will serve as both a learning hub and a gathering place for many years to come,” she said. “We are grateful for the actions of the government in turning our dream of a beautiful and efficient new school into a reality.”
The revitalization project is part of the government’s $17-million modular school pilot program to renew aging infrastructures in rural B.C. To date, three aging schools have been updated or replaced through the modular school pilot program, which was announced in 2012.
John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes, said the completion of Babine Elementary-Secondary improvement project is great news for kids, Granisle and Tachet reserve families and the community.
“These new classrooms and improvements will provide students a positive and safe learning environment and help strengthen our community,” he said.