Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Ecole Barrie Wilson --- Myles has story---Red Deer Public School District board chair Bev Manning

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Ecole Barrie Wilson --- Myles has story---Red Deer Public School District board chair Bev Manning

Schools handed keys to P3 facilities

Local divisions are getting the keys for the four new schools built using the P3 approach this week.

Local divisions are getting the keys for the four new schools built using the P3 approach this week.

On Wednesday, Red Deer Public School District took control of École Barrie Wilson in Timberlands, and Francophone division Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord got possession of its K-12 École La Prairie facility on 34th Street.

ABC Schools Partnership — the consortium that designed, built and financed a bundle of 12 Alberta schools — will hand over control of two other buildings in Red Deer and Penhold today and Friday as well. Each school will open to students in September.

Red Deer Public superintendent Piet Langstraat called the K-5 École Barrie Wilson facility “beautiful” after a brief ceremony.

“We’re building another school (in Inglewood). It’s very tempting to just copy this one with some minor alterations because it really is a beautiful building. They got the design absolutely right,” he said.

Just over 325 students have so far enrolled for September, with that number expected to rise. The dual-track French immersion school will open with capacity to house 500 students.

Under the P3 approach, maintenance of schools will be handled by a contractor for a period of 30 years, not the division. It is that piece which Langstraat will determine whether the P3 model ultimately works for the division.

“We will look after shovelling the snow, and that’s it. … In terms of the running of the building, the maintenance, the ability for teachers to make their classrooms their own and hanging things up and all that, I’ll wait and see. I’m not sure how it will play out in the long run,” he said.

The new school features a public library branch that will also open in September.

The K-12 École La Prairie building, which will replace an older facility next door, will open with space for 250 students.

The Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division will get possession of its new elementary school in Clearview today and ABC Schools will turn over keys to Chinook’s Edge School Division’s Penhold secondary facility on Friday.