Local school boards report disparities with government timelines

Timelines trumpeted by the Alberta government for school construction continue to conflict with information from local school boards. In an announcement on Monday, Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar said despite economic pressures school construction projects announced in 2013 and 2014 were on track.

Timelines trumpeted by the Alberta government for school construction continue to conflict with information from local school boards.

In an announcement on Monday, Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar said despite economic pressures school construction projects announced in 2013 and 2014 were on track.

However, both the Red Deer Catholic and Public school boards said their timelines do not match up with the province’s.

Paul Mason, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools superintendent of schools, said construction work on St. Joseph’s High School will start this spring near 30th Avenue and 67th Street.

A release from the government indicated that construction on the school wouldn’t start until September 2016.

Mason said the school has been tendered and they are set to start work on it, after completion of the permitting process.

Both the school district and the province say the school should be built and occupied by September 2017. Once completed, it will hold 900 students and can be expanded to 1,200.

The new Catholic kindergarten to Grade 9 school in Blackfalds still needs construction dollars, said Mason.

“The project has been tendered, we just haven’t received funding to build the new school,” he said. “We’ve received planning dollars to plan to build a new school, but we have not seen the funding dollars to build a new school.”

Both the board and the province estimate a September 2017 opening date for the 500-student school.

On Monday, the Red Deer Public District board said construction on the proposed Inglewood school will start in the fall with a targeted September 2017 opening.

The Infrastructure Department said construction would start in April and the school would be occupied by September 2016.

The Red Deer Public School Board had asked for an extension on that construction project so they could seek out community partnerships.

Blackfalds’s other new school, in the Wolf Creek Public School District, is on track according to the Infrastructure Department’s timelines, said Larry Jacobs, superintendent of schools.

Alberta Infrastructure has taken over the project because the tender has been awarded and construction started in January.

It is estimated to be completed and opened by September 2016.

Once opened, the kindergarten to Grade 6 school will have capacity for 400 students, with the ability to expand up to 500 students.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com