After eight years of stripping drywall, paving, flooring and all other kinds of total remodelling, a modernized Stettler school is not only being hailed as a new community gem, but also an economically efficient one.
Work to improve Wm. E. Hay Composite High School started in July 2005 and officially wrapped up last August. The final cost balanced out to be about $12.2 million, coming in $20,000 under budget, according to a recent Clearview Public Schools board meeting.
“We’ve only been hearing a lot of positives about the school. … It came in under budget, which speaks to the excellent work of staff, I think,” said Peter Neale, associate superintendent with Clearview Public Schools.
“With any project of this scope, there’s an upward pressure to go over budget. The success here speaks to strength of allowing school boards to manage capital projects. It’s a great example of how we can do it right.”
The school, built in 1962, was starting to show its age and required major updating to meet current learning needs, Neale said.
“There was nothing structurally wrong with the building. The decision to modernize it came with recognition that it is a really good school and we wanted to see it last for another 30 years.”
A new fitness area was added with weight equipment and cycles where community spin classes can take place, in addition to serving the physical health needs of students. New flooring, lights, walls and ceilings were also put in place, as well as a new paved parking lot after the school division took on land that was once the home of the community pool.
Bathrooms and the plumbing system were updated and a new gymnasium was constructed in the second phase of work. An older wing, a 1969 addition, was also demolished after being determined it was no longer needed.
The initial renovation project that started in 2005 was approved for roughly $6 million by the province, of which $1 million came from the sale of the Waverly School to East Central Alberta Catholic Separate School Regional Division.
The board found the figure inadequate for the needs of Wm. E. Hay and advocated for more funds, Neale said.
In 2007, a bolstered budget was approved by the minister of Education for $12.25 million.
Additionally, as part of the modernization package, a furniture and equipment allowance was included, meaning $430,000 went towards new desks, computers, Smart Boards and more, Neale said.
“So the new facility comes with new items that just help ensure an even better educational experience,” he said.