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Alberta NDP commits to build two new schools in Red Deer

Ahead of a provincial election next month, The Alberta NDP has committed to building two new schools in Red Deer.
Alberta NDP candidate for Red Deer-North Jaelene Tweedle (left), Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley (middle) Michelle Baer, candidate for Red Deer- South (right) announced Tuesday that if elected, the party will build two new schools in Red Deer. (Photo by Advocate Staff)

Ahead of a provincial election next month, The Alberta NDP has committed to building two new schools in Red Deer.

In an announcement on Tuesday with Annie L. Gaetz Elementary School in the background, Alberta’s official opposition said they will build a junior high school in Timberstone as well as a K-5 catholic elementary school in the city.

“We will get to work on construction as soon as possible because we know how fast the population in northeast Red Deer is growing,” said Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley.

“This junior high school, when completed, will provide quality education to 600 students.”

Notley also highlighted the need for a new K-5 Catholic elementary school with a capacity for 500 students. “Every Catholic elementary in the city is currently at capacity,” she said. “We need more space as we anticipate a surge of new students in the coming years.”

The Alberta NDP said they will work with Red Deer Catholic Schools to identify the best location for the new school.

Jaelene Tweedle, Alberta NDP candidate for Red Deer-North said during the announcement that she hears time and time again from the community that more schools are needed to better serve students in the city.

” I can say for many years the Red Deer Public School district has advocated for this,” Tweedle said.

“This was a top need for them. My own child has just left the elementary system in the area and has gone to a different middle school. We had hoped by the time he had needed a middle school we would actually see this site built and it hasn’t been yet.

“This has been a need for a long time and we have brand new schools that have been built and then with a couple of years, portables are being added because we’ve run out of room.

“I hear every day from people that they want a school and they want a school close to home for their kids.”

Red Deer-North UCP candidate Adriana LaGrange, current MLA and Education Minister said in a statement Tuesday that the NDP is committing to the projects without a plan.

“The NDP are campaigning on building new schools with no planning work done, no design work done, no official engagement with school authorities, and in many cases no physical sites selected,” she said.

“Alberta’s government has announced 106 school projects since 2019 – this includes 58 projects this year. Some of those projects are still in the pre-planning, planning, or design phase. That’s because we’re being prudent with taxpayer dollars and responsible in our approach.”

LaGrange added that Red Deer Public and Red Deer Catholic have received their top priorities over the past four years, including funding for St. Lorenzo Ruiz middle school for Red Deer Catholic and Hunting Hills major modernization for Red Deer Public, as well as funding for a new K-5 school in Blackfalds for Red Deer Catholic.

““While the NDP may be making campaign announcements in a last-ditch effort to win seats in this election – we’ve made actual commitments through Budget 2023 and the School Capital Plan to move projects forward including a new northeast middle school for Red Deer Public,” LaGrange said.

Michelle Baer, Alberta NDP candidate for Red Deer-South noted that she’s also heard from the community that teachers are struggling with large class sizes.

“I hear from parents all the time about education and we hear from teachers that they are really, really struggling,” she said.

“It’s not just a new school that’s important, it’s the cuts that they have sustained to the support in the classroom and the kids are suffering. These are really important measures that we are committed to bringing forward.”

Earlier this year, two new schools and the modernization of four current schools were identified as priorities in Red Deer Public School’s three-year capital plan.

The division’s board of directors approved the 2024-26 Capital Plan on March 9. Three-year plans were required to be submitted to Alberta Education by March 31.

Capital Plans submitted by Alberta school divisions are a list of capital priorities that school boards would like the provincial government to fund. The plans are essentially wish lists submitted for consideration in the government’s infrastructure planning process.

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