Out of 113 portables owned by the Abbotsford School District, six are currently not in use, the same number that would be required to avoid displacing any students or staff from Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School during seismic work.
The school district expects to gain provincial funding for the seismic work, but because of the availability of space at Rick Hansen Secondary School, the Ministry of Education will not fund portables to avoid displacing students during the work.
ASD spokesperson Kayla Stuckart confirmed with The News this week that the district currently has six portables not in use, but she said that doesn’t mean all portables will necessarily be used for ATSS during seismic work.
“There are a number of factors that we need to look at and review for the district as a whole – for example, expected enrollment growth and capacity pressures at some of our schools,” Stuckart said in an email.
“While six portables may be available, two of them are from 1990 construction and require some upgrades. Using available portables is an option that we will consider as we review the requirements for the ATSS seismic project.”
ATSS parent Carelle McKellan, who brought potential unused portables within the district to the attention of The News last month, said it is “good news” that the school district is looking into its own stock of portables for potential solutions.
She said research by a group of advocate parents from ATSS found that moving each portable would run about $25,000 – about one-ninth of the school district’s $225,000 estimate for each new portable.
The group of parents, who presented at last month’s school board meeting, will be presenting to school board again next Tuesday to relay their findings, McKellan said.
However, parents and students have been vehemently opposed to displacing students to Rick Hansen Secondary. They cite concerns that this could trigger a decline in ATSS attendance and ultimately result in the closure of the school, as well as potential conflicts between ATSS and RHSS students.
The school district has offered several options, which include the use of six portables to keep all ATSS students and staff on site, also utilizing unoccupied space at the adjoining Abbotsford Traditional Middle School.
Other options include sending certain grades to their catchment schools instead of traditional schools; offering some courses at RHSS and other courses at the traditional campus, requiring fewer portables; and amalgamating ATSS and ATMS, including administration and counselling, freeing up redundant space occupied by staff, requiring three portables.
At $225,000 apiece, six new portables would add up to around $1.35 million, adding more costs to the district, which is currently facing a draining accumulated surplus.
The project is expected to run 18 months, and the school district is seeking more funding elsewhere to conduct further necessary maintenance work on the building, including the building envelope, concurrently with the seismic work.
That maintenance work is expected to run $5 million to $8 million, while the seismic work is pegged at nearly $18 million.