Taking advantage of an available capital project grant from the Ministry of Education, the School District 69 Board of Trustees approved the purchase and installation of boiler upgrades at Bowser and Nanoose Bay elementary schools for the 2016-17 school year.
The grant funding will cover the $89,000 cost of the Nanoose Bay boiler system and a $220,000 system upgrade at Bowser. The cost of installation will be provided by the ministry in the coming year, secretary-treasurer Ron Amos told trustees at their Nov. 24 meeting.
“Effectively, it’s a two-phase approach to the release of funds, with the caveat we spend the (purchase) money by the end of March,” Amos said. “It’ll be about $140,000 for each of the installations, come April 1. That’ll be released in the second phase.”
Prior to the board’s vote, Trustee Julie Austin asked why there was such a disparity between the cost of the two systems.
“At Nanoose, we’re just replacing four of the seven boilers,” said Dino Stiglich, general manager of operations for the district. “We’re going to put in air pumps in Bowser. You’re replacing three boilers, plus the heat pump system, plus the design of the entire system.”
Stiglich explained the current Nanoose system is connected to natural gas, while Bowser is running on more expensive propane. That expense will be cut with the addition of the heat pump system.
Amos said the ministry funding for the two boiler projects was in addition to the district’s regular capital expenditure requests.
“Annually, (the ministry) asks for a capital plan from the districts,” he said. “This year they’ve added to that a routine capital submission. Basically, it’s extra funding that the Ministry of Ed brought forward for school districts to submit a capital project of a routine nature. We submitted a number, and were able to get the funding for these boiler upgrades.”
The week following the board’s vote, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell visited Nanoose Bay to congratulate students and staff on the impending upgrades.
“These upgrades will create a healthier learning environment for students and staff and greatly improve the operating efficiency of these schools,” Stilwell said.
During its meeting, the school board also approved $171,168 to replace one school bus in its fleet.