by Marnie Goldenberg
Extensive Effort to Date
Lord Nelson has required a seismic upgrade for many years so that the building is more resistant to seismic activity due to earthquakes. For the last 7 years, there have been active efforts to ensure a safe school for students and staff. A small parent group advocated for the required attention our school needed. It’s been a long time and a lot of work but the process has been extensive, effective and inclusive. There were significant assessment and feedback phases. The Lord Nelson Seismic Advisory Committee sought to identify the possible implications of this substantial project and the Lord Nelson community (staff, students and parents) were offered an opportunity to share their ideas and dreams for the building and outdoor space. I remember my kids had a chance to draw pictures of what the playground could include – they dreamed big dreams and some of them are coming true!
The architects offered the VSB and school two main options:
(1) Retrofit the existing building which would require students to study in portables or temporarily attend another school, and was nearly 2x as expensive as a new build or,
(2) Construct a new building on the gravel field adjacent to the existing building while the students remain where they are, move to the new school and then dismantle the old building and finally develop the outdoor space.
Both options were seriously considered and the 2nd option was chosen, and along with it a design that embraces 21st century learning.
Ready for Construction – Hard hats at the ready
Lord Nelson’s New School Project is now ready to go! Our start date has been set as November 21st, 2016! We’ve got the required contractors, project managers, and Mr. Knibbs, the Lord Nelson principal, will act as liaison between the VSB, Project Managers, builders and school community. Mr. Knibbs’ primary role is to ensure the work is undertaken safely and with as little disruption to students as possible. But let’s be honest, it will be disruptive. There will be noise, and dust, and along with the gravel field being a construction site and unavailable to the kids, parts of the courtyard (Kitchener side of the school) and 1 or 2 of the portables will be out of bounds.
Be excited…. and patient.
This is so exciting for the Lord Nelson student community and for residents in the neighbourhood. Even if your kids will be in high school by the time the project is complete, all of us will be able to enjoy the incredible outdoor space. And we can feel fantastic that our local school is safe for our friends and neighbours for years and years to come. So, for the next 20-24 months, we need to be patient and see the long-term value to our community.
The Site Safety Plan and other updates will be available through the LN newsletter as well as on the PAC website. There will probably be a special meeting set up to inform parents of the details. If you have feedback or wish to share a concern, please speak with Mr. Knibbs, connect with Cynthia Farnsworth or James Evans (both of whom sit on NSAC) or any member of the PAC, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where’s the Money!
The PAC has a significant task to ensure that the school is completed with all the requirements and must-have bells and whistles. The budget is largely in place already. VSB has a cap on how much it will spend on our school so the remainder falls to the community more directly. This will include costs for furniture (the existing furniture is old but additionally much of it doesn’t fit with the updated learning format), and for the outdoor areas – landscaping, bike and emergency equipment storage, a track, and a primary grades play structure.
The PAC has already raised and set aside $60,000 - and this has been achieved without compromising ongoing annual PAC activities and existing student needs! With an ultimate goal of approximately $200,000, we are in a strong fiscal position to fulfil the plan by the end of 2018. Whatever your thoughts are on fundraising for public schools, I encourage everyone to be a part of Lord Nelson’s efforts. Not only will it ensure the best outcomes for students, but events (the upcoming Silent Auction, the Spring Carnival) truly are community building events and the purchasing opportunities (Coffee, Poinsettias and chocolate) all have value added in that you get coffee, flowers, chocolate and more!
Want to help out? We need all the help we can get!