With the help of Grade 5 student Brycen Pieroway, Alberta’s education minister announced a new school for Sylvan Lake on Wednesday.
The planned kindergarten to Grade 8 school would add capacity for 500 students to the Central Alberta community.
Education Minister Jeff Johnson pulled the C.P. Blakely Middle School student up to the podium to help him make the announcement.
“I’m sure it will be full just as soon as it is built with the way Sylvan Lake is going,” said Johnson.
Johnson ballparked the cost of the new school at between $12 million and $20 million. According to the Chinook’s Edge School Division 2014-17 capital plan, the new school sought is budgeted at $11,635,029.51.
Another school announcement is being made today in Red Deer, although few details are known.
Red Deer MLAs Mary Anne Jablonski and Cal Dallas are making a school infrastructure announcement at Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame School.
The plan is to have the school open by the 2016-17 academic year, but Johnson admits that is an ambitious goal. The responsibility of building the school falls to Alberta Infrastructure.
“Those are tight timelines, but the projects we have been rolling out over the last few years have been built within that two- to three-year window,” said Johnson. “It’s ambitious, but realistic.”
C.P. Blakely was originally built for 350 students, then modular classrooms increased it to 380. It is well over capacity with 450 students this year.
“Sylvan is like many communities in Alberta — it is just growing because people want to live here,” said Johnson.
“We have many communities giving up library space or computer labs for classrooms. We’re putting portable classrooms on schools but for those communities, we need to make sure we’re investing in those spaces.”
Colleen Butler, Chinook’s Edge School Division board chair, said the school division is pleased with the announcement.
“We have been overcrowded in all of the Sylvan Lake schools,” said Butler, pointing to a part of the hallway that has been converted to a library.
“Their staff room, I don’t know where it is, it’s been turned into a classroom because they are so overcrowded here.”
The school will be the first kindergarten to Grade 8 school in Sylvan Lake, which has two kindergarten to Grade 5 schools, one Grade 6 to 8 school and one high school, as well as the career high school.
“Sylvan Lake is growing so rapidly,” said Butler. “We’re getting four portables to attach to this school for the fall just to relieve some of the pressure. That will probably only last so long, we desperately need the new school.”
She said the capacity offered in the new school will be great “for a while,” but if Sylvan Lake continues to grow, they will look for another new school down the road.