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DDSB schools getting upgrades

More parking needed at Northern Dancer, Adelaide McLaughlin

A number of public schools in Oshawa are currently undergoing renovations, including Dr. S.J. Phillips, for new masonry and wall cladding. (Photo by Randy Nickerson)

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

A number of public elementary and secondary schools across the city are getting some upgrades.

“We have a lot of projects going on pretty much all over the board, but Oshawa is no exception – large and small,” says Lisa Bianca, senior manager of facilities services at Durham District School Board (DDSB).

A total of 11 Oshawa schools – seven elementary and four secondary – are currently undergoing construction and renovation projects, including Village Union P.S., which is getting a new elevator.

“The original building had a person lift that was quite small so we’re putting in a full size elevator, which will give staff and students full access to the second floor,” says Bianca. “This will really improve the accessibility and usability of the entire building, so that’s one we’re pretty excited about.”

Bianca adds part of the project also includes an accessible lift from the ground floor of the gym to the stage, making the stage fully accessible.

“It’s one we’re pretty proud of. We’ve been working on that one for a couple of years so it’s nice to see it come to fruition,” she says.

Windows and doors are being replaced at G.L. Roberts CVI.

“The windows are original to the building so it will provide much greater operability and better light,” says Bianca, noting while the size of the windows aren’t changing, “I think this will give the building such a boost.”

Bianca says some of the older windows are being replaced at Sunset Heights Public School as well, noting the school also underwent some masonry and cladding work last year.

Dr. S.J. Phillips P.S. is undergoing masonry and wall cladding restoration, a two-year project which is set to be completed this summer.

“Being a building that’s pretty much almost 100 years old, it’s been a long process but we’re very happy with the results,” says Bianca, adding in the final phase of the project, the windows on the west side of the building will be replaced. The new windows will mimic the current windows, which are a replica of the original windows.

(Photo by Courtney Bachar)

Masonry and wall cladding restoration is also underway at Vincent Massey P.S. and Eastdale CVI.

At R.S. McLaughlin C.V.I., the final phase of the roof replacement is underway.

“We have done it in three stages because it’s such a large building, so this summer the last piece is being replaced,” says Bianca.

The school’s elementary neighbour, Adelaide McLaughlin P.S. is also getting some upgrades with a parking lot expansion.

“Parking is always a big concern in our buildings, so at Adelaide McLaughlin, we’re doing a parking lot expansion to better serve not only staff but visitors as well,” she explains.

Northern Dancer, one of the board’s newer buildings which opened two years ago, is also getting some extra parking accommodations.

Bianca notes Harmony Heights P.S. is another interesting project.

“It’s becoming sort of a multi-phase project. One of them is the renovation of the library to update it to a learning commons, but we’re also providing air conditioning in the library as well as the main office,” she says.

Harmony Heights is also part of the board’s air conditioning program to have an air conditioned space in every school, a project that has been ongoing since November 2017.

While some of these projects will be complete by the end of summer, Bianca says others will stretch into the fall.

“We really take advantage of the time between the end of June and the end of August,” she says, noting it’s an opportunity to get in there and improve student learning environments before they come back in September.

She says while there may be certain projects that will continue into the 2020/2021 school year, they won’t impact student space.

“We have a strategic plan at the board and everything we do from learning to facility work, we try to hit the pillars of our strategic plan,” says Bianca. “We strive to provide an equitable learning experience across all of our buildings, regardless of their age, size or region. So we use our funding to create these spaces throughout the board and try to give the best learning environment possible.”