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School gets long-awaited makeover

Classes started Sept. 13, but if you take a walk down the hallways of Hafford Central School, it's not students you'll see, but construction workers, plumbers and electricians.
Hafford Central's principal Martin Link and caretaker Sylvester Kohut take stock of the renovations underway at the school, which were recently the subject of much discussion at the regular Living Sky School Division board meeting.

Classes started Sept. 13, but if you take a walk down the hallways of Hafford Central School, it's not students you'll see, but construction workers, plumbers and electricians.

Instead, the students can be found in the seniors' centre, the Communiplex, the Ukrainian National Hall and the Gospel Fellowship Church, where they are being taught while the school undergoes renovations.

"It's been a unique, challenging, frustrating experience, but we're almost through it," said principal Martin Link, explaining he goes from facility to facility in order to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Link said it's been great seeing the school building transform and he is looking forward to the completion date, estimated to be the end of October.

"It'll provide a superior facility for our students and I think along with that comes a superior education," said Link.

The renovations have been long overdue, according to Living Sky School Division board member Ron Kowalchuk.

"We've been waiting a long, long time for this," said Kowalchuk, explaining the school was approved for renovations in the early 1980s, but due to the financial and political situation at the time, the renovations never happened.

During their regular board meeting, Sept. 22, the trustees discussed the final plan for renovations, which began in June.

Since the school was approved for renovations to the home economics room in the 2010-11 budget, it was decided they would go ahead with those renovations and renovations to a computer lab, converting it into a classroom, and a number of other renovations. It was decided it would be more feasible to complete all the renovations at once.

In lieu of a traditional computer lab, Hafford Central School will be added to a growing number of schools that have portable laptop computer "labs" which can be wheeled into individual classes.

Originally, the plan was to demolish the oldest section of the school, which was built in the 1950s, renovate another area and leave the third section of the school untouched.

Over the summer, some areas were renovated, having been completely gutted and refinished, complete with new plumbing and electrical.

The rooms are white, with blue doors and window frames, and bright and open.

However, since the area set to be demolished has yet to be torn down, there was some concern over whether or not the project would be completed this fall. There is an old septic tank below that section of the school that also needs to be removed and it's late in the season for cement work.

There was discussion over whether or not to re-commission the area to be demolished, using it and the renovated area for students while the front end of the school is being renovated.

In the end, it was decided elementary-level students would return to the school building, taking classes in the newly renovated area, while senior-level students will stay in the facilities they are currently being taught in.

"There was a feeling from the staff that rather than relocate the kids a number of times, it would make more sense to leave the senior kids in the places they are now for a short period," said Chief Financial Officer Ray Kopera, adding the renovations are still anticipated to be complete by late October.

Having the students in the rented facilities is costing $540 per day.

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