SD68 $5 million renovation of Cedar Secondary to Cedar Elementary

Converting Cedar Secondary School to Cedar Elementary is an unnecessary project which will cost taxpayers over $5 million when all the dust settles. This tax burden will leave  Cedar residents without a high school for their children.

There is another elementary school located 2.8 km away from the proposed Cedar Elementary that is ranked top in the district. Woodbank Elementary, which is slated to close in 2015, has a sports field that is in perfect shape, does not require video surveillance in order to keep the students safely supervised and is situated next to roads that allow  students to safely walk and ride their bikes to school.  Woodbank could be retrofitted to fit the required number of elementary students for less than $500,000.

Why would SD68 choose to spend $5 million when they could spend $500,000?

Fixing the Sports Field at Cedar Secondary:

The sports field at Cedar Secondary has been unusable for years because it is in a constant state of being flooded.

March 13, 2014: Trustee Saunders asked SD68 if they had budgeted out how much it would be to fix the sports field. She was told that SD68 hadn’t looked into the issue.

Yet in a Freedom of Information request obtained by Save Cedar Schools it was discovered that the staff had received cost estimates for fixing the sports field in 2013 and had already spent $17,000 for a site assessment. Why did they mislead Trustee Saunders?

SportsField SD68 $5 million renovation of Cedar Secondary to Cedar Elementary
Sports field at Cedar Secondary – over $750,000 estimated to repair

On March 5, 2013, Newcastle Engineering submitted a proposal for a $16,985 site assessment of the sports field.

January 10, 2014: Pete Sabo sent an email to Brian Hackwood requesting a quote for a video surveillance system that would cover the entire Cedar Secondary site, including the skate park and the interior of the school.

January 13, 2014: Brent Spohn authorized Newcastle Engineering to proceed with the  site assessment of the Cedar Secondary sports fields.

muddyfield SD68 $5 million renovation of Cedar Secondary to Cedar Elementary
Muddy Sports Field at Cedar Secondary – not good for children. Was this area once a wetland?

February 21, 2014: Spohn received a preliminary cost estimate for the sports field and copied the message to Sabo. The quote for the sports field remediation was $754,845.

February 26, 2014: Spohn received an email from Jan Michael Williams at Unitech Construction Management with an ‘updated’ quote for the elementary conversion project for $2,659,558.

This quote did NOT include:

  • the cost of repairing the sports field
  • jobs being done by district staff members
  • construction management fees

If one includes these costs into the total cost for the original plan, the estimate is closer to the $5 million quoted by community members.

February 28, 2014: Spohn sent an email to Sabo asking for his input on a report he was working on which revealed that Cedar Elementary opening capacity is below base plan and that “attached is a future growth plan for increasing enrollment”. (The attachment was not received in the FOI request).

Hiding Information from the Parents:

March 2, 2014: Sabo sent out an email to:

Cathal Walsh, Bob Esliger, Bassem Tawfik,  Gregg Brown, Brian Parker (of Unitech),  John Blain, J. Williams of Unitech, L Rowley of Herold  Engineering, Les Brown of RB Engineering, Stephen McNicholls of RB Engineering and Scott Lewis of  Newcastle Engineering.

No members of the School Construction Committee were sent a copy of this email.

In this email Sabo requested that the School Construction Committee NOT be informed of the latest discussions.

In the email Sabo requested input on an ‘alternative’ plan for the renovations of Cedar Secondary based on the proposals received from Unitech on February 26th.

March 7, 2014: Unitech sent a new estimate to Spohn and Sabo.

SD68 didn’t include repair of the Cedar Secondary sports field in original plans:
On March 13, 2014:  at the School Construction Committee (SCC) meeting, the SCC asked the SD68 if they had estimates for the sports field improvement project.  SD68 wouldn’t provide any information.

SD68 knew about the conditions of the Cedar Secondary sports field yet they ignored the issue until parents on the School Construction Committee (SCC) expressed concerns.

April 23, 2014: Parent volunteers from the School Construction Committee gave a presentation about including the repair of the sports field in the school conversion project.

No Money for North Oyster
SD68 has decided to keep North Oyster Elementary School open. It will have more students in it than the current proposed Cedar Elementary. North Oyster requires upgrading, yet no money has been allotted to this school.

The families in all elementary schools surrounding the proposed Cedar Elementary are entitled to know. Is this school conversion project a valid use of taxpayers’ money?  Parents WANT a high school in their community.  IS anyone listening?

(Images courtesy of Save Cedar Schools).