By Greg Laychak
A long needed upgrade to the Kent elementary mechanical systems will now be possible after the provincial government announced $1.3 million in funding to the school.
The project includes replacing 17 rooftop units with new heat pumps and condensing boiler backup to provide heat, as well as the installation of a new direct digital control system.
“We get a level of funding to maintain our buildings and what we’ve been doing in the last little while is putting it into the roofing,” said Natalie Lowe-Zucchet, secretary treasurer of Fraser-Cascade school district. “So the mechanical systems are our next projects and we were going to have to piecemeal it and this way we can now afford to do it all at once. So we’re very excited because they were coming to the end of their useful life.”
When Lowe-Zucchet applied for the grant she knew it was a high priority for the ministry of education and for the district, she said.
“So when they brought out the new funding model for minor capital projects we had all of the preliminary work in place to be able to show them what we needed and they obviously felt it was time,” she said.
Because of that advanced preparation Lowe-Zucchet said the work can be done before the end of March next year.
Boards around the province submit capital plans to the ministry that include details on school building priorities in their school districts, and are awarded money based on need, priority, and supporting student learning, according to a government release.
“This investment is really significant,” said Laurie Throness, Chilliwack-Hope MLA. “As the largest investment in B.C., it is four times the average grant under this program.
“This shows the high need at Kent Elementary, as well as the high value of this school to the province.”
Stam Watchorn, Kent elementary’s principal said the district is doing its part in applying for maintenance and facilities grants to help make area schools more functional.
“We’re looking forward to having things work more effectively and make the learning environment comfortable for students and teachers,” he said.
The Fraser-Cascade district also received another $160,000 for lighting upgrades for Silver Creek elementary school.
“I think we got our fair share for sure,” Lowe-Zucchet said of the projects that were approved under the province’s routine capital program.