Modernization of Hunting Hills High School, including an addition to the school, is at the top of Red Deer Public Schools’ capital wish list.
The project, estimated to cost $41 million, was approved by the province in March 2021. It includes an addition to the school to accommodate 200 more students, as well as major repairs to the building envelope, mechanical and electrical systems.
“This project has been at the top of our list for quite some time. It’s an important need that must be addressed, and we are grateful for the support of the province,” said school board chair Nicole Buchanan in a statement.
The project is currently in the planning stages with the plan being reviewed by Alberta Infrastructure. It is anticipated that tenders will go out in October and be awarded in November, with construction starting late December.
Last week trustees with Red Deer Public Schools trustees identified their top priorities for the 2023-26 three-year capital plan, which was being submitted to the province for funding consideration. The province decides which projects are approved and when they will go ahead.
Other priorities in the three-year capital plan include:
• A new Grade 6-8 school in northeast Red Deer for 600 spaces in the Timber Ridge neighbourhood.
• Modernizations of Gateway Christian School, Fairview Elementary School, Oriole Park Elementary School, Glendale Sciences and Technology School, and Eastview Middle School.
• A new Grade 9-12 high school in northeast Red Deer for 1,000 spaces on the Agora Campus.
Red Deer Public Schools has 21 school facilities with many of them constructed prior to the 1980s.
A report to the board on the capital plan said that as schools continue to age, many of the components are becoming out of date and inefficient, and the cost of maintaining aging facilities increases annually.
“Looking ahead, many of our facilities in the division are reaching 40-50 years and will require modernization in the coming years,” Buchanan said.
“These types of projects are solely funded by the provincial government and will be on our wish list much like other school jurisdictions across the province.”
In September, enrolment at Red Deer Public increased by 0.92 per cent to 10,893 students.
But enrolment projection data predicted no enrolment increase in 2022-23, followed by a decline in 2023-24 that continues for the next 14 years. Steadily declining enrolment in elementary schools beginning in 2023-24 will have an impact on middle schools that will also begin to decline in in 2026-27, followed by high schools in 2027-28.
Some of the factors helping to determine projections are birth rate and migration, and Red Deer continues to be impacted by a declining birth rate, as well as migration out of the city.
The report said that the enrolment projection has historically provided accurate information based on many different indicators from multiple sources, however, a change in economic growth in Central Alberta could impact demographic factors and change enrolment projections.