A team from School District No. 46 (SD46) is currently short-listing architects who want to design the new Gibsons Elementary School.
The evaluation team consists of secretary treasurer Nic Weswick, superintendent of schools Patrick Bocking, Gibsons Elementary School principal Deborah Luporini, manager of facilities Rob Collison and project consultant Jim Alkins as well as an outside architect to help evaluate plans and monitor fairness.
“He monitors the entire process to make sure that it’s done by the book,” said board chair Silas White. “I guess when you’re dealing with this much money in a public structure like this, you don’t want that to be a question where someone’s awarded a contract for reasons that might not be completely above the board.”
The contract is worth millions to the right proponent. In April the province announced SD46 would receive $ 14.3 million to build the new school.
Originally Gibsons Elementary School was going to undergo a seismic upgrade, but a feasibility study done in 2007 showed constructing a smaller, more energy-efficient school to be more cost-effective.
Once the evaluation team picks their three favourite architects, a more detailed request for proposals will go out to them, including the team’s criteria for the build.
“The RFP will put some restrictions on what we want. Like if we want parking in a certain place … if they want certain fields to be preserved … that’s the kind of thing that will go into the RFP, and I think that will be happening in October,” White said.
The school board will have some input when deciding the criteria, but White notes the majority of influence will come from users of the school who have been bringing forward their ideas to Luporini.
“She’s the person on that team who’s going to be connected to the community and representing the school’s issues,” he said.
He hopes the team will be able to look at designs for the new building by November, make a decision in early 2013 and begin building sometime in the spring of that year.
SD46 wants to have the new elementary school completed before school starts in 2014, but it’s too early to tell if that timeline can be adhered to.
Once the new school is erected, the current school is likely to be demolished, although its fate has still to be finalized.
“That could still be subject to what the proposals come up with, what the architects propose for the site, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep the old school because it’s an old building and we would have no way of maintaining it. We’d have no funding for it,” White said. “Certainly no one has come forward saying they’d like to take it over as a community project and look after all the energy costs or anything like that. Because it’s such a liability being so old and costing so much to keep going, tearing it down would make the most sense and it would clear off the site, too, for maybe a field or playgrounds or parking.”
He said the school board is excited to see construction begin.
“This is the first new school on the Sunshine Coast since Kinnikinnick was built in the late ‘90s,” he noted.