‘Down to the studs’: Coral Harbour school to get major renovations

Sakku School work projected to take 2 years, cost $65 million: Education Department

Sakku School in Coral Harbour is on track to begin a two-year, $65-million renovation project in the fall that will see the school stripped “down to the studs,” Education Minister Pamela Gross said in the legislature last week. (File photo)

By Madalyn Howitt

Coral Harbour’s Sakku School is on track to start a two-year, $65-million renovation this fall.

The school, which includes students from kindergarten to Grade 12, will undergo a lengthy retrofit led by Arctic Fresh that will see construction go “right down to the studs,” said Education Minister Pamela Gross in the legislative assembly May 25.

“The school will basically be a brand new school just using the steel frame that is there,” she said.

The school was built in 1979 and then renovated in 1995 and 2007. However, past issues with those renovations and ongoing concerns about mould have meant doing more work to the school has been on the department’s agenda “for a very long time,” Gross said.

According to a list of Nunavut school maintenance requests obtained by Nunatsiaq News, Sakku School has experienced dozens of infrastructure issues in recent years ranging from glycol and water leaks to plumbing problems, structural damage and heating issues.

Groundwater beneath the school is also contributing to mould concerns, Aivilik MLA Solomon Malliki said.

“It’s either too hot or too cold, so [the temperature] is not stable in some parts of the school, but the real problem is the mould,” he said.

“Some students have skin conditions and others even have respiratory problems due to the mould.”

In March, students attending Nunavut Arctic College moved out of the building attached to Sakku School after also complaining of mould problems.

Malliki said residents and the hamlet had hoped to build an entirely new school, however the decision was made by the Education Department to renovate the current building because the foundation beneath it is solid.

Renovations will include building ditches or culverts around the school to stop groundwater from damaging the structure, Malliki said, and a substance similar to kitty litter may be used to pull moisture from out of the crawlspace beneath the school.

Arctic Fresh will begin construction this fall after the sealift arrives, Gross said. Renovations are expected to be complete by the 2025-26 school year.

During renovations, students will remain in the school but will rotate where they have classes over the next two years while the work is underway.

In addition to the school’s renovations, which will include a new gymnasium, workers will add a daycare facility and a new building for Nunavut Arctic College on the same school lot.

Renovations will also allow for a full-day kindergarten program to be delivered at Sakku School.

“It’s a substantial amount of money,” Malliki said. “I’m just happy that it’s going to happen.”

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