Hundreds of Greater Victoria classrooms get technology upgrades

Four hundred thirty classrooms across the Greater Victoria school district are getting technology upgrades, part of a busy summer for crews at schools around the region.

“It’s all the display screens, speakers connected to the Internet, connectivity,” said district facilities director David Loveridge.

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The school board has committed almost $1.9 million to put technology systems in every district classroom, he said.

Installation started about a week and a half ago, Loveridge said, after considerable preparation. “That will be ongoing at the start of school, probably into early ’17.”

School officials routinely take advantage of empty buildings over the summer months for construction and maintenance.

Last summer was unusually busy as the finishing touches were put on three new high schools around the region. Oak Bay and Belmont were rebuilt to replace well-worn structures, while Royal Bay welcomed students for the first time.

In the Saanich school district, June marked the beginning of the replacement of the leaky roof at Bayside Middle School — the source of a petition, protest and considerable media attention. Funding was announced in May, with the province putting in $6.1 million and the district $1 million.

Plans call for completion in two parts, with the second phase coming next spring.

As well, year-long seismic projects at Parkland Secondary ($9.1 million) and Cordova Bay Elementary ($5.3 million) are set to wrap up. About $1.6 million in seismic work has been ongoing at Lochside Elementary over the summer, said Saanich school board trustee Wayne Hunter. The work should wrap up close to the beginning of the school year.

Along with the technology work, the summer to-do list in the Greater Victoria district includes completion of a $3.5-million refurbishment at Cloverdale Traditional School, most of which has been seismic upgrading.

Cloverdale school was relocated to the former Richmond Elementary during construction, the latest in a long line of district schools to use Richmond while seismic work was underway.

Completing work at Cloverdale is “one of the main priorities” for the district this summer, Loveridge said.

“We’re going to have pretty well everything done by the end of next week,” he said.

“All of the materials, all of the school supplies that were over in Richmond are being moved over slowly.”

A new entrance and student drop-off area are also being added.

Also underway are roofing projects at about 14 schools, Loveridge said.

“We’ve got a huge roofing program on the go right now,” he said. “I think a lot of the parents will notice there’s a lot of roofing in a lot of schools getting done.”

A seismic refit worth $11 million is also continuing in the Sooke school district at Dunsmuir Middle School.

“That’s still a big project and still ongoing, and then they’ll be finishing up work between September and Christmas,” said district superintendent Jim Cambridge.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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