Granisle’s Babine Elementary-Secondary School students paint samples of how the walls of their new school will look like. With 26 students enrolled

Granisle’s Babine Elementary-Secondary School students paint samples of how the walls of their new school will look like. With 26 students enrolled

Granisle school revitalization project goes over budget

The school district expects the extra cost to be approximately $400,000 over total budget costs.

In the story ‘Granisle school revitalization won’t be completed until springtime 2015′ published in the Lakes District News’ Feb. 25, 2015,, Manu Madhok, Director of Instruction for School District No. 91, said the school district was on track to meet its budget allocation for the revitalization project of Babine Elementary-Secondary School (BESS).

The school’s construction budget was set at $7.3 million. The school district is now expecting the revitalization project to be approximately five per cent over the total project costs, which equates to approximately $400,000.

“Although we are in the process of finalizing costs of this project, we do not yet have all the final costs,” said Madhok.

The revitalization project was originally scheduled to be completed by September 2014, but due to delays, the project is still not 100 per cent complete.

According to Madhok, the majority of the project has been completed over the spring of 2015, but there are a few finishing touches such as painting to be completed in the coming weeks. Madhok accounts the remote location of the school for the unanticipated delays in securing contractors.

“This [delay] has much to do with supply and demand issues currently within the trades/construction sector and the economic activity within our region,” he said.

The BESS revitalization project included a variety of construction methods such as demolition, new construction, renovation and five new modular classrooms.

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.

“Kids are taking well to the new arrangement and are getting used to working in groups or individually in the multipurpose room and in their ‘cubbies’/breakout spaces,” said the school’s vice-principal Dylan Watt.

According to Watt, the community has also been responding positively to the project.

“The community has been very impressed with their experiences in the new facility, mostly commenting on the bright and open space feel and the ability for smaller, closer gatherings,” said Watt. “The potlatch that we hosted in March easily sat 100 participants in a traditional setup; we have a number of user groups that have booked time in the building and have been impressed again with the finishing and with the ease of moving between areas in the facility.”

Before the revitalization project took place, students had been using the same facility for over 40 years.

“It was an older facility that hadn’t got any renovations and it was due for an upgrade,” said Watt.

The kindergarten to grade 12 school opened its doors in 1967 to accommodate Granisle’s then rapidly growing population. At one point, the school had approximately 500 students. Currently, BESS has 26 students enrolled. Given declining enrolment rates and the building’s deteriorating condition, newly designed modular classrooms were determined as the best solution to revitalize the school.

The ministry of education provided funding of $5.28 million for project, and School District 91 Nechako Lakes committed $2 million. The school district and the ministry of education signed the agreement in April 2013.

Demolition of the original building started in the fall of 2013, and the new modular classes arrived during the summer of 2014. The modern new building will be equipped with computers, Wi-Fi and smart boards.

“Reaction from staff and students is currently a sense of relief that we are out of the construction phase and now we’re getting to know our building,” said Watt. “The best day this spring was when we were able to open their gym back up and play some hockey.”