Jereme Monteith and Jim Tom

$5.3 million dollar renovations at the Granisle Babine school

With a $5.3 million budget, the Granisle school is being downsized and completely renovated.

With a $5.3 million budget, the Granisle school is being downsized and completely renovated.

Mike McMillin, Site Superintendent, says they are demolishing 23 classrooms and a total of 40,000 square feet, and they are renovating all of the rest of the school building, except a few offices and the gym.

Unitech Construction Management Ltd. is contracted to manage the project, scheduled for completion by September 2014.

McMillin says they are gutting the building of materials containing asbestos, then they will demolish the extra wing this month,  do renovations to the classrooms, hallways and offices this winter, and put in the five new modular classrooms in May.

The current 65,000 square-foot building will be cut down into a 25,000 square-foot building, said Tim Bancroft, Manager of Facilities for School District 91.

McMillin says the building is so large because at it’s peak in the 1990s, the school enrolled 425 students – which has dropped to 36 students this year.

“It’s just not economically efficient to have such a huge space with the small amount of kids,” McMillin said.

The new building is designed so they can add modular units if needed, he added.

Senior teacher Michael Gaal says they have three teachers and eight support staff at the school, who are running things as best they can with the noisy construction surrounding them.

“The construction is chaos,” said Elementary Teacher Lyndsey Williams.

“They’re taking asbestos out of the walls, so it’s like ‘whirr, whirr’ and it’s really distracting.”

They’ve also had a few chilly days in the school because the heat was turned off for the construction, Williams said.

Despite current challenges, Williams says she is excited about having a new school.

“It’s designed a lot more for a collaboration-type of space.

“I feel like it will be a lot more close-knit and we’ll have more interaction between the kids, whereas here all the kids are separated into different wings.

“It will be pretty cool,” she said.