Red Deer Public School trustee Lawrence Lee greets Alberta minister of Education Jeff Johnson as they and other dignitaries take part in an announcement in Red Deer on Tuesday. Government and school board officials announced the beginning of construction of new schools during the event which was held on the site of a new school in the Timberlands area of the city.

Red Deer Public School trustee Lawrence Lee greets Alberta minister of Education Jeff Johnson as they and other dignitaries take part in an announcement in Red Deer on Tuesday. Government and school board officials announced the beginning of construction of new schools during the event which was held on the site of a new school in the Timberlands area of the city.

Four new Central Alberta schools announced

Four new Central Alberta schools will get underway by next summer as part of a $288-million private-public partnership, Education Minister Jeff Johnson announced in Red Deer on Tuesday.

Four new Central Alberta schools will get underway by next summer as part of a $288-million private-public partnership, Education Minister Jeff Johnson announced in Red Deer on Tuesday.

Johnson joined Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale and dozens of community and school leaders for a sod-turning ceremony at Timothy Drive in Timberlands.

A Red Deer Public pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 school, plus a public library branch, will be built there as part of a provincewide bundle involving 11 other school projects.

“The need for schools in Alberta is undeniable,” said Johnson. “We need to take action on that.”

Construction of the public school is expected to begin on Friday.

Work recently got underway on the middle school in Penhold for Chinook’s Edge School Division.

Drysdale didn’t have firm timelines for when construction would begin on Red Deer Catholic’s new kindergarten to Grade 5 school in Clearview Ridge, just south of 67th Street.

No information was given either on start of construction for a K-12 school for the Greater North Central Francophone Education Region.

It will be built in Red Deer just south of the existing Ecole La Prairie School, between 34th and 35th Streets and east of 49th Avenue, next to the Kin Kanyon park trails.

“It doesn’t matter when they start,” Drysdale told reporters. “They’ll all be ready for school classes in 2014-2015.”

He said this private-public partnership (P3) will result in saving $43 million, plus the 12 schools will be done about two years faster than the conventional way of building each school individually.

“We’re able to build the maintenance dollars within the contract so at the end of (30 years), we’re getting a school that’s in good shape,” said Johnson.

Maintenance budgets of school boards are at the whim of provincial budgets, as well as politicians, he added.

Johnson said another 22 school projects are following behind, being tendered out right now.

“This is the third round of P3s and I think we’ve been learning from each one,” he said.

Up to 7,700 new student spaces will be opened up as a result of the 12 new schools.

Johnson said that there’s always a question as to where and when other schools will be built.

“We’re in the middle of that process right now,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, the province announced the P3 contract, would given to ABC Schools Partnership.

It had the lowest bid price of $288.78 million.

The consortium consists of project lead and financing (HOCHTIEF PP Solutions North America, Inc.) and British Columbia-based Concert Infrastructure Ltd; design and build team of Clark Builders, Stantec Architecture and Stantec Consulting Ltd. Ainsworth Inc. is responsible for maintenance.

Through a P3 model, government receives a 30-year warranty on the work. Normally, warranties are only one to two years. Schools will be owned and operated by school boards, and run like existing schools.

Drysdale said that if a company was to collapse or the project goes over budget, then the consortium is on the hook, not the taxpayer.

“But so far, every P3 school we’ve done has been done on time or ahead, and on budget,” he said.

Mike McGuinty, ABC Schools representative and senior vice-president for HOCHTIEF, said that the schools will be designed and maintained to inspire and support learning during the day, while meeting diverse community needs for evening and weekend activities.

“For HOCHTIEF, this represents our third P3 in the province,” said McGuinty.

HOCHTIEF is working on the section of the ring road called Anthony Henday in Edmonton, as part of a public-private partnership. It was also part of a project of 10 schools that recently opened.

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