Work is underway to place nine modular buildings into position to construct a temporary school on Hornby Island. Hornby Island’s only public school was badly damaged by a fire in August — just days before the start of the school year. Video courtesy Kim Fagerlund.
The Comox Valley School District says it aims to have Hornby Island students in a new temporary school in just over a month.
School District 71 Director of Operations Ian Heselgrave says a 200-tonne crane has been brought on site to assemble nine modular buildings for a temporary school after Hornby Island Community School was badly damaged by a fire in August.
Heselgrave says the target is to have the facility opened for students on Feb. 19.
A fire broke out in the early morning hours Aug. 26 at Hornby Island Community School, which had served the community since 1984.
The fire gutted classrooms and the gymnasium and rendered the building unsafe just days before the start of the 2018-19 school season.
A 25-year-old man was charged with with one count of arson damaging property. His name is the subject of a publication ban.
As a short-term measure, Heselgrave says half of the school’s 47 students are in class at the nearby Hornby Island Education Society building.
The other half of students and administration are at the community hall a half-block away.
Heselgrave says the temporary school is at a price of $1.5 million, provided in emergency funding from the education ministry and has presented major logistical challenges to get into place.
Getting the nine modular buildings from West Coast Outbuilding in Squamish to Hornby Island was a challenge since the units were too big for smaller BC Ferries’ vessels that service Hornby Island to handle.
Heselgrave said a large barge vessel was used to transport the module buildings and had to be taken to a beach on Hornby Island, since the ship was too big for the ferry terminal.
Three classrooms will be built using two modular units per class, along with a library and an administrative building.
Heselgrave says the goal is to structure the units with a feeling of community, providing a centre deck that can be used as a gathering place.
The school district hopes to provide a report to the education ministry in the next couple of months in efforts to secure funding for a new, permanent school