School board rejects, then approves multi-school site

A lack of shared spaces at the site of three proposed high schools led the Red Deer Public School District board to vote against the site concept plan at first.

A lack of shared spaces at the site of three proposed high schools led the Red Deer Public School District board to vote against the site concept plan at first.

Eight days later, board trustees held a second vote and changed their position, supporting the site.

The multi-school site is at the northeast corner of 67th Street and 30th Avenue.

Public school district superintendent Piet Langstraat said the board was told by the City of Red Deer it had to approve the site concept plan so Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools district could get its new high school on time.

On Oct. 22, the proposal for the Northeast High School Site Concept Plan was defeated by a vote of four to three by the public school board.

Trustees Bev Manning, Cathy Peacocke and Bill Stuebing voted in favour and trustees Diane Macaulay, Jim Watters, Bill Christie and Dick Lemke voted against.

“We came quickly to the realization that unless we were to give our consent, the Catholic school board wouldn’t be able to go ahead with their project,” said Manning. “We did not want to hold up their project.”

On Oct. 30, a special meeting was called and a second vote on the site concept plan took place. Macaulay was the only person to vote against the plan at that point. Watters, Christie and Lemke changed their votes. Macaulay asked for a recorded vote.

The three high schools will be built on the site in phases. The Catholic high school will be the first on the site and needed the project approved.

Utility servicing work on the site could be completed by the end of the year.

Guy Pelletier, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board chair, said the his board voted unanimously in favour.

“We got the funding announcement for it in early 2014,” said Pelletier. “We’d like to be under construction next spring. We need it.”

The proposed Catholic high school already has a name, St. Joseph’s High School.

It is tentatively scheduled to open in September 2017. When opened, it would have the capacity for 1,200 students.

Ultimately, there will also be a Francophone high school built at the site.

The public board had hoped to have more shared facilities at the site, such as a gym or a career and technology studies lab that could include manufacturing, design, construction, trades and heavy-equipment related programming.

“There are certain facilities at high schools that are very expensive to build,” said Manning.

“We can do our taxpayers a huge service if we work together to share those spaces.

“It came back to us showing separate buildings.”

Langstraat said the original concept plan had separate public and Catholic schools, but in between the two buildings was another structure with all kinds of shared facilities.

“We were looking at shared gym space, CTS space, arts space,” said Langstraat.

“If we each build a technology lab inside our own schools, we’ll get an OK technology lab. If we were to pool all of our funds and share the space, we could build a state-of-the-art, fantastic technology lab that we would share. That was the idea.”

The public board hopes that going forward there may be some shared facility between the Francophone and the public high schools.

“But the Catholic high school will definitely be a separate building,” said Langstraat.

The public and Catholic districts share a site that includes G.H. Dawe School and St. Patrick’s Community School.

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