School expansions welcomed

By JESSICA JONES Advocate staff The announcement of a modernization project for the shared school campus in Innisfail is a step in the right direction, school officials say.

By JESSICA JONES

Advocate staff

The announcement of a modernization project for the shared school campus in Innisfail is a step in the right direction, school officials say.

Two days after the province announced that it would renovate 13 schools in Alberta, Chinook’s Edge School Division and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools were given the go-ahead to modernize the shared school campus — the home of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School, John Wilson Elementary School and Innisfail Junior and Senior High Schools.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School opened in 2003 and has expanded twice. But now with 263 students, the school needs to take over approximately 800 square metres (8,611 square feet) of space from John Wilson Elementary School, in order to add a gymnasium, a library and four teaching spaces.

“Our library right now is in a hallway so we are really excited about this,” said Ken Jaeger, supervisor of support services for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, on Thursday.

“I would say for the last five years that we have been without proper spaces for a school of this size.”

“We are thrilled about this,” St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School principal Rose McQuay added. “We are full to capacity and we desperately need some more space.”

The project is still in preliminary stages as the first design meeting was held between the school boards, the architect and Alberta Infrastructure on Wednesday.

Jaeger says that the overall project — slated for completion in the fall of 2014 — could cost between $5 million and $6 million but how this will be divided is still unknown.

Among the plans is the configuration of John Wilson Elementary School and the junior high school, with the addition of another gymnasium in the high school to meet the needs of the broader community — a collaboration between Chinook’s Edge, the Town of Innisfail and Red Deer County.

Alan Tarnoczi, associate superintendent of corporate services for Chinook’s Edge, says the current high school gym has low ceilings and small courts, making it “difficult” for the students.

“When you look at the Innisfail community and the population within the school, there is simply not sufficient, quality gym space for the number of students and particularly for the high school students,” Tarnoczi said on Thursday.

He said that the partnership between Chinook’s Edge, the town, county and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools hopes to design the project in order to get “maximum use of taxpayer dollars.”

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com

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