UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 12 | August
Partnership saves school costs, researcher finds
Abbotsford school built for 10 per cent less
Canada has few public dollars for the pressing need to build more
schools. Now, a promising option has emerged according to a UBC
researcher. A public-private partnership (P3) has built a school
in Abbotsford at savings of slightly more than 10 per cent compared
to conventional procurement methods.
"Since 1991, a total of $4 billion was spent on school construction
in B.C. alone and this P3 project proves schools can be built at
lower cost, freeing public dollars for other uses," says Education
Prof. Daniel Brown.
With three UBC Education graduate students -- Katherine Babiak,
Brenda Ball and Glen Overgaard -- he conducted interviews and analyzed
the finances in an inquiry funded by the Society for the Advancement
of Excellence in Education, a research organization based in Kelowna,
The elementary school for 250 students in the Auguston housing
development opened its doors last September. Major partners in the
initiative were the BC Ministry of Finance, Abbotsford School Board,
Beautiworld Development Corp. and the project managers, Field &
In a P3 relationship, private and public sectors share the responsibilities,
rewards and risks for the success of a project. In this case, the
real estate developer, concerned with slumping sales in the development,
provided a catalyst of $500,000.
The school was built to ministry specifications, took only 12 months
to complete and provides enhanced facilities for neighbourhood use.
For Brown, the novel experiment provided an opportunity to determine
which elements enhanced success and how difficulties can be avoided
in the future.
High legal costs for the lease agreement originally planned resulted
in the purchase of the school by the ministry. According to all
parties, the most significant downside was the extra time taken
to meet with various partners. However, educators and community
members were pleased with the enhanced facilities, including a larger
library, a built-in daycare and exterior access to washrooms for
outdoor sports events.
"The demonstrated efficiency of this successful P3 offers exciting
options for building more schools and even for decentralization
of construction from ministries to school districts," Brown concludes.