UPDATE: Dan Harris, Communication Director for the Department of Education, says the retendering process for the next phase at Springhill High School will focus on finding expanded seating, but within the current space and without expanding the overall square footage of the gymnasium.
The first tender, Harris said, looked at expanding the gymnasium, which lead to the cost overruns. The new tender is to look at expanding seating while maintaining the overall size of the gymnasium.
SPRINGHILL – Despite concern to the contrary, Nova Scotia Education Minister Ramona Jennex says Springhill High is still getting an expansion to its gymnasium.
Jennex responded to Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie’s letter to Treasury Board chair Frank Corbett today, saying Baillie’s call for the board to uphold the expansion and allegation the project was downgraded to a renovation of the same size confusing.
“I think Jamie has a misunderstanding of the project,” Jennex said.
Renovations at the junior-senior high school were broken down to four phases, with the last phase being the expansion of the gymnasium, seating area, lockers and washrooms.
“The project, as agreed upon, is an expansion, with more seating, new floor and acoustic panels and a complete rebuild of the locker rooms and washrooms.” - Nova Scotia Minsiter of Education Ramona Jennex
“The project, as agreed upon, is an expansion, with more seating, new floor and acoustic panels and a complete rebuild of the locker rooms and washrooms,” said the minister.
Tenders for the $1.9 project were called in June 2012, Jennex said, but came in at $2.9 million – more than 50 per cent than estimated.
The project is now being re-tendered, Jennex said, to find a bid closer to the government’s estimate.
“We’re re-tendering it to make sure we’re getting value for our dollar. But we can’t allow the province to be on the hook for $1 million… we are committed the students have a gym upgrade. I know it’s key they have more seating.”
In his Jan. 15th letter to Treasury Board chair Corbett, a copy of which was also sent to Jennex, Baillie said it was reported at a meeting of the school steering team, which oversees the project, the treasury board had decided to cancel the expansion and order a renovation of the existing gym instead.
To date, an approximate $100,000 in “soft costs” for the design of the expansion has been spent, Baillie said.