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New Argyle school mulled
The North Vancouver School District is looking to fund a portion of the replacement cost for a new Argyle school through the sale of two surplus schools — Keith Lynn Alternate secondary and Monterey elementary.
In May 2012 the Ministry of Education approved Argyle, along with 13 other schools in the province, for seismic upgrade funding.
The current cost estimate to bring Argyle up to earthquake code, based on a soon-to-be-completed structural engineering report, is $30.9 million.
“For an extra $14 million we would prefer that we have a new school,” NVSD superintendent John Lewis told The Outlook on Monday. That preliminary cost estimate is from a NVSD project identification report for a replacement school.
Portions of the Argyle building — built using unreinforced concrete blocks in the 1960s — have been identified as having a “High-1” risk, meaning there would be widespread and irreparable structure failure in the event of earthquake.
Those findings were released last fall, after a two-year study conducted by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. and the University of B.C.’s civil engineering department.
According to Lewis, the seismic upgrade repairs would strengthen the existing walls, floors and roof of the Argyle building, but not include modernization of the heating, ventilation and electrical systems.
The school district is currently finalizing a report that will outline the scope of the Argyle replacement project in greater detail. Tentative plans call for the new school to be built on the gravel field downslope from the main building.
“The advantage of this is that is does not require temporary accommodations in a portable city,” said Lewis.
The next step involves the province reviewing the North Vancouver school board’s formal request to convert the Argyle seismic upgrade project into a full replacement project, with a decision expected this fall.
Lewis said the property values of Keith Lynn and Monterey schools might be sufficient to fund the $14 million funding gap for the proposed project.
“The two properties in combination are expected to be close to the total amount for a new school,” said Lewis.
The school board will also examine surplus properties such as Plymouth elementary where a long-term lease could be applied and the revenue used to fund the Argyle project.
If all goes according to plan, a new Argyle school would open its doors during the 2016-2017 school year.
“I think it’s really quite essential for us to provide educational opportunities in an environment that is attractive and engages students in a much more inviting setting,” said Lewis.