The Red Deer Public School District and Red Deer Catholic School District will receive money from the provincial government to modernize two schools.
Last week, the province announced 55 new schools and 20 modernization projects across Alberta.
The Catholic division will see the addition of five new classrooms to St. Francis of Assisi and the public division will see the modernization of West Park Middle School.
“We had this project on our capital plan so it has gradually worked its way up over the years to being a priority. We were pleasantly surprised with the announcement,” said Bev Manning, chair of the Red Deer Public School board. “You never know when the government is going to decide to do these things. But it’s really awesome and we are very thankful for it.”
There is little detail of how much funding will be received for the modernization and no timelines have been given either.
“It has been a long time since that school has been touched so I would think there would be a lot of mechanical work, although that is hypothesis on my part,” said Manning. “The other issue that we do have and we probably will look at is if we can add a few more classrooms on. If there is anyway we can squeeze in a few more spaces, we certainly will try and do that.
“That’s usually not in the plan for modernization. But sometimes you can be creative and do things a little bit outside of the box and we’re always trying to think that way.”
During the Premier Jim Prentice’s announcement, he said addressing the shortage of schools in Alberta is a key aspect of the government’s mandate for education. This fall, the province committed $263.2 million in funding, over two years, for school projects across the province.
This includes funding for 12 new starter schools, dozens of modular classrooms, as well as funding for the planning and design of 55 new and expanded schools and for planning 20 modernized schools. It also includes an increase to infrastructure and maintenance funding to help school boards address their most pressing deferred maintenance needs.
The new school projects and modernizations were selected through a comprehensive assessment of various factors including school boards’ priorities, health and safety of students and staff, enrolment projections, current utilization, facility conditions and capacity for program delivery.
Moving forward, the government will continue to work with local school boards and stakeholders to explore potential community partnerships and innovative ways of maximizing the use of existing and new school space, Prentice added.