A local school is getting a much needed major renovation thanks to funding from the Government of Alberta.
During a visit to St. Patrick’s Community School on Saturday, Education Minister David Eggen announced $9 million in funding towards the modernization of the building.
“It’s a major renovation. This is not just putting up a coat of paint. The $9 million can really transform a school. Put extra space into it, more flexible space and obviously do the necessary modernizations for the infrastructure,” Eggen said.
The school, which was built in 1981 as a Kindergarten to Grade 7 facility and later expanded to a year-round Kindergarten to Grade 9 school, is currently running at 130% capacity, making it one of the highest-capacity schools percentage-wise in the province, Eggen said.
“It really stuck with me because teachers — you could see how they were working to make a good place and environment for kids here. The atmosphere and the general community is really great and I think they need a school that matches that. Matches that effort and the growth that’s taking place here.”
With the lack of teaching space that having an overcapacity school causes, staff at the school has had to create a number of improvised classrooms in hallways and storage rooms in order to house all of their students.
“We are literally teaching in hallways, in the staff room, in office areas, in St. Pat’s Place, which is a gathering area and back in our shop and those classrooms are being used 50 per cent of the day, so we literally don’t have classroom space here,” said school Principal Terri Lynn Mundorf.
St. Patrick’s was one of seven schools the provincial government announced would undergo renovation back on March. 21st, but Saturday was the first time that staff and school administration learned the dollar amount.
“It’s quite a significant contribution. I think that building a new one is about twice that and so when you have a school that has good bones like St. Patrick’s has and its proximity to the library and other recreation facilities then that’s a good starting place,” Eggen said.
Mundorf said the school is excited about Saturday’s announcement.
“We are grateful for whatever we get, so we will use every penny of the $9 million.”
Beyond the necessary upgrades to the school’s infrastructure, Mundorf said one of the school’s top priorities in the modernization project will be the construction of more collaborative learning spaces for their students.
“We definitely need more collaborative breakout spaces, so rooms that can perhaps be smaller for those smaller groups and then perhaps a door or glass doors open up and then we can create larger groups. I know the building is older, so we need some mechanical and air ventilation and those types of things but my main focus is on the students’ learning.”