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Blackfalds high school hopes appear on hold

A high school may not be built for years in Blackfalds despite strong community support for one.

A group had recently presented a petition of 615 signatures to town council, and in the coming weeks that same petition will come to Wolf Creek School District.

It requests the school district to make the construction of a high school, either next to or connected with the existing junior high school, a priority in the capital budget it submits to the province, and provide the necessary dollars to run it with full programs.

Last month during a joint meeting between the town and school district, board chairperson Trudy Bratland said a new elementary school in Blackfalds is “the top priority in our capital plans for the future.”

School district superintendent Larry Jacobs said he knows that Blackfalds is growing, so at some point the town will have to consider land for a high school.

He thinks a high school is feasible, just not for many years because the number of students isn’t high.

“The Ministry of Education is actually the one that decides if they’re going to build a high school or not,” said Jacobs on Tuesday.

The decision is based on the capacity of the entire school division to handle the number of students that it has.

Lacombe Composite High School, which now takes in high school students from Blackfalds, is at about 80 per cent capacity right now, Jacobs said.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson would likely recognize that if the Blackfalds students were taken from the Lacombe Composite, then the Lacombe school would see its numbers decrease, said Jacobs.

Right now, about 200 students are high school age in Blackfalds and those numbers would make for a tiny high school.

“People send their kids to high schools because they want a vast array of programming,” said Jacobs. “When you get to a 200-person high school, you might not be able to supply the core courses on a yearly basis.”



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