Board balks as Erskine gym needs more work

The gym at Erskine School requires yet more work before it can meet provincial standards

The gym at Erskine School requires yet more work before it can meet provincial standards, Clearview Public Schools trustees learned last week.

Associate superintendent Peter Neale told trustees that acoustical testing has revealed the gym no longer meets Alberta Education guidelines for sound reverberation.

“You need the sound to be of sufficient quality so that it’s not going to take away from the event,” Neale said at a board meeting held Thursday, Sept. 11.

However, trustees balked when told the remediation could cost between $40,000 and $45,000, after the division has already spent an estimated $92,000 addressing issues with the gym’s ceiling.

The board approved a motion to pursue the necessary work — which would likely involve the addition of wall panelling, and possibly ceiling treatment as well — but Neale was asked to seek out alternate options in hopes that the expense could be reduced.

Acoustical tests indicated that sounds reverberate inside the gym for up to six seconds, well over the provincial standard of two seconds.

Work began on the facility after it was discovered that pieces of insulation were coming loose and falling through the wooden slats on the gym ceiling. Drywall was installed on the ceiling and the slats were reinstalled underneath.

Neale told trustees that there was room in the capital budget for the added expense after the paving project at Coronation School did not move forward.

Board vice-chairperson Dave Goodwin expressed some hesitation, referring to his experience as a band director and the options available for “sound remediation.”

“There’s lots of ways that are not really very expensive, and I’m surprised at that number,” he said. “Carpet on the walls is a lot less money and it doesn’t interfere with the gym.”

He asked Neale about the possibility of seeking alternative quotes. Neale responded that owing to both the greater square footage of a gym and the degree of the problem, “We are going to have to put some investment into the correct technology.”

He was willing to look into creative options, such as hanging mats from the ceiling to absorb sound, but warned that some of these may lower the facility’s aesthetic quality or limit the school’s ability to host competitions and events.

“There are creative solutions,” said Neale. “Again, I’m not sure if that’s going to bring it down to the two-second reverb, which is the goal that we have.”

In response to a query from Goodwin, Neale said there is no specific timeline, but added, “Alberta Education would expect us to be diligent in solving it.”

Other trustees were deterred by the cost, including Cheri Neitz, who remarked, “We’re sinking farther down into that money pit.”

“That seems like a lot of money to me,” said Karen Holloway. “I’m just not totally convinced that this is the only solution.”

Neale agreed to seek alternative bids to address the problem, but asked the board to approve a “benchmark” of $45,000, allowing him to move forward. If time allows, he said he would return to the board to present the options that are available.

If capital spending is not approved, the project will be supported by Infrastructure Maintenance Renewal funding, according to the motion.

 

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