A sod turning ceremony was held yesterday to begin the construction of the new Timberlands elementary school.
Currently the school does not have an official name, it is just referred to as the “new elementary school in Timberlands”. The official name will be determined sometime this upcoming year.
The school, which will host students from pre-kindergarten through to Grade 5, will open with a capacity of 500 students and could expand to 600 students in time.
Piet Langstraat, superintendent of schools for the Red Deer Public Schools division, said that the school has a “pretty unique” design. The core of the building will open with 12 classrooms inside the physical school building and there is potential to add 12 portables on the outside doubling the size of the school.
“I think that this is a pretty forward-looking design because we can adapt to the changing needs of this community.
“This school will provide a couple of things,” said Langstraat. “We have designed the school to allow for a lot of community access. We really want the community to be able to utilize this building as well.”
The Timberlands school has been planned as a neighbourhood school. It has been designed so that various parts of the school can be closed off to provide the community with easy access to facilities such as the gym and the library.
One way that the community will be able to use this new facility is by accessing the public library that is being built on site. The school board and the City of Red Deer have been working together in order to make this scenario possible.
“The library will be open to the public but will also have a collection for the school,” said Langstraat. “I am thrilled that we are going to have professional librarians provided by the Red Deer Public Library.
“This will meet the needs of the community and our kids.”
According to Langstraat there are also all kinds of enrolment pressures in the City of Red Deer and adding a new school will help ease some of that.
“When I look at the southeast quadrant of Red Deer many of our schools are over 100 per cent full,” said Langstraat. “We are thrilled to have a new school to help relieve some of that enrolment pressure.”
The school is scheduled to be complete by September 2014 and the board of trustees is continuing to make decisions regarding the school and how it will meet the needs of Red Deer students including determining the school boundaries and which students will be attending this school.
They are considering five different scenarios. Some of the scenarios being considered include an English only school, a dual-track French Immersion school, a single-track French Immersion and other scenarios. The board is in the process of sharing these scenarios with the community and is looking for feedback.
According to Mayor Morris Flewwelling, this school is going to be one of approximately a dozen of the Centennial projects for the City of Red Deer that will be scattered around the City.