Lower construction costs may enable catholic school projects

Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division is putting forward the same list of capital projects the province rejected last year, and is hoping for different results.

Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division is putting forward the same list of capital projects the province rejected last year, and is hoping for different results.

In Tuesday’s provincial budget, the $1.7 billion for 2009-2012 for school capital projects was already committed to pay for 135 projects.

But Red Deer Catholic is waiting to see if declining construction costs will enable more projects to be approved.

“(Education Minister Dave Hancock) was hopeful in the fact that costs are coming in less than what was projected, even up to 60 per cent less, so there’s some money there he’s hoping can be re-profiled into other projects,” said superintendent Paulette Hanna after Tuesday’s board meeting.

The top project for the Catholics is a new $15.8-million kindergarten to Grade 9 school for St. Marguerites Bourgeoy School in Innisfail. Its 280 students are occupying a former elementary school.

“It’s over-full. Right now there is no library. We’ve had to use the library as a classroom so the library is in the hallway.”

The computer room had to be turned into a regular classroom and laptops are moved around the school. The gymnasium is tiny, with no change rooms, she said.

The division and parents wanted the new school, which would take two years to build, to be open by 2010.

Red Deer is also in need of a new $11.7-million kindergarten to Grade 5 school for 2010, where elementary schools are overflowing, Hanna said.

Other projects on Red Deer Catholic’s capital project list are:

• $6.2 million for modernization of St. Patrick’s Community School in Red Deer for 2010.

• $ 2.6 million for five more classrooms at St. Francis of Assisi School in Red Deer for 2010.

• $52.2 million for a new high school in Red Deer for 2012.

• $17.5 million for a new kindergarten to Grade 9 school for Blackfalds/Red Deer for 2012.

The 3.8 per cent increase in operational funding for school jurisdictions announced on Tuesday means Red Deer Catholic will still have a $550,000 shortfall in 2009-10 and will have to dip into surplus funding. Funding for students with severe disabilities got a zero per cent increase in funding so school boards must somehow find extra funding, Hanna said.

“Our programs are not going to change any and we’ll have to subsidize it from somewhere. It’s the same concern for everyone in the province.”


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