Rapid population growth in Blackfalds has Wolf Creek Public Schools reviewing its capital plans to look at modernizing Iron Ridge Elementary Campus sooner rather than later.
Superintendent Jayson Lovell said enrolment declined by about 75 students to 410 this month at the pre-kindergarten to Grade 3 school with the opening of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools’ new St. Gregory the Great Catholic School. But Wolf Creek’s elementary school is still packed with students and the town’s toddlers will soon be ready for school.
“We actually converted two change rooms into a classroom last year. The library has been converted to a classroom,” Lovell said.
“We just added two portables. We added two portables the previous year. There’s lots of pressure there.”
Last week Wolf Creek officials met with Alberta Education planners to tour the elementary school that includes a section built in 1949 that was to be demolished years ago and houses four classrooms.
He said Blackfalds annually sees an eight per cent population increase. The town has 1,179 babies and children from age zero to five, and 800 children age six to 10.
“It’s a very, very young community and lots of young families. Projecting forward, we know we will certainly have lots of enrolment pressure in our three schools.”
Iron Ridge Intermediate Campus, for Grades 4 to 6, has 304 students and Iron Ridge Junior Campus, for Grades 7 to 9, has 245 students.
He said Iron Ridge Junior Campus has four portables and no more can be added. Iron Ridge Intermediate Campus opened a year ago and can accommodate portables.
“Even if we were to reconfigure (the schools) it might just be a short term fix considering the growth.”
Modernization of Iron Ridge Elementary Campus is currently the second priority on Wolf Creek’s capital project list. At the top is modernization of the career and technical studies wing at Rimbey Senior Junior High School.
Wolf Creek School board has requested a meeting with the Town of Blackfalds to discuss future needs for the area and potential partnerships for school modernization or new builds.