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New schools pursued

New schools for Red Deer and Blackfalds are the top priorities within Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools’ draft three-year education plan that was approved this week.

The school board discussed the 2012-2015 education plan, which includes capital plans. The plan is still in its draft form because the budget needs to be approved on Nov. 27.

“We’re in desperate need of a high school and all our other schools are operating at capacity or just below,” said chairwoman Adriana LaGrange.

Growth in school enrolment is evident. As of the 2012-2013 school year, there are 7,373 students (5,723 in Red Deer schools and 1,650 outside of Red Deer). In the 2011-2012 year, there were 6,633 students (5,103 Red Deer in schools and 1,530 outside of Red Deer).

The school division’s first priority is for a new high school in Red Deer.

“We need one today but it takes time to get approval,” said LaGrange.

The next four priorities, in order of importance, are: classroom additions at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School in Red Deer, modernizing St. Patrick’s Community School, a school in Blackfalds, and modernizing St. Matthew Catholic School in Rocky Mountain House.

Besides the high school in Red Deer, these other four priorities will be pitched to the provincial government, said LaGrange.

She said the school in Blackfalds will likely serve students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 9. Currently, Catholic students are bused to Red Deer.

A new pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 school, Father Henri Voisin School, is set to open September 2014 in Clearview Ridge.

Over the next three years, the school district also wants to enhance student achievements, which are already high on average.

“We have a really low dropout rate of 0.6 per cent this past year, compared with the provincial average of 3.2 per cent,” said LaGrange. “But we won’t be happy until that .6 per cent disappears so we have every student graduating.”

The education plan also includes focusing on four priorities: faith, inclusion, literacy and technology.

“To be an effective Catholic witness we need to build capacity and confidence in our staff through clear expectations, professional development, prayer and encouragement,” says the report.

The school district will also work at making all schools inclusive. This includes educating students with special education needs in regular classrooms in neighbourhood schools.

Trends in student achievement also show the need to provide increased resources and support to classroom teachers at all grades to reflect that “all teachers need to be teachers of literacy,” says the report.

Technology was also listed as important.



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