The opening of two brand-new Catholic schools in Central Alberta could help spark the 4.7 per cent student enrolment growth in the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division.
Board chair Guy Pelletier believes the 536 students the district gained this month in six area communities partially stems from the opening of the new St. Joseph High School in Red Deer and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds.
Both schools have already topped their projected enrolments, with St. Joseph so far getting 572 students (compared to an estimate of 400), and St. Gregory the Great getting 451 students, instead of the projected 300.
The latter facility is the first Catholic school to open in Blackfalds, Pelletier noted, so many families in the community may have decided “they like what we have to offer. The division has good programs… and people are making a choice.”
With other Catholic schools in Rocky Mountain House, Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Olds, the regional district now has a total of 10,020 students.
Pelletier believes that part of the new student growth could also be due to more families moving into Red Deer’s established neighbourhoods. For instance, the K-9 St. Patrick’s Community School now has 650 pupils — “it’s one of our most full schools.”
The gain of the two newly opened Catholic schools and additional students has resulted in 60 new teachers being hired this fall by the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division.