Construction of 10 new schools funded in Alberta budget

Construction of 10 new schools funded in Alberta budget

The Alberta government is starting construction on 10 new schools in Calgary, Chestermere, Edmonton, Airdrie and Cochrane this year. 

The new facilities include a new public school for grades 7 to 12 in south Edmonton, and a new Catholic high school in the Calgary neighbourhood of Rangeview. 

Money has also been allocated to modernize École Corinthia Park elementary school in Leduc and build a new K to 9 Catholic school in Edmonton’s Rundle Heights neighbourhood, which will replace and consolidate three existing schools into one. 

The budget allocates $2.1 billion over three years to build and modernize Alberta schools. Budget 2024, introduced in the legislature on Thursday, will fund 43 priority school projects in various stages of construction and planning — 18 in the Calgary region and 14 in the Edmonton area. Other projects will be announced in the near future. 

The province also wants to spend $103 million over three years to set up modular classrooms to ease overcrowding in existing schools. 

Premier Danielle Smith defended her government’s decision not to spend more. She said Albertans don’t want tax increases, they want their taxes to go down.

 “We’ve got to make sure that we can live within the very substantial means that we get from Albertans,” she said. 

“And that we’ve got to find new ways of doing business so that we can continue to grow, but not see our expenses year-over-year outstrip what we can afford to pay.”

The chair of one of the province’s large metro boards said the province’s announcement is a good start but much more needs to be done. 

Watch | New schools funded in Alberta budget:

New, upgraded schools announced in 2024 budget

The Alberta 2024 budget contains funding for new and replacement schools in the province’s urban centres. As CBC’s Travis McEwan reports, it’s welcomed news for some education advocates while others say it doesn’t go far enough.

Laura Hack, chair of the Calgary Board of Education, thanked the government for funding her board’s top priority — a new K to 4 school in the Evanston neighbourhood. 

While the board is grateful for the announcements, Hack said the critical need for schools still remains. 

“Over the past two years, Calgary Board of Education has welcomed more than 13,000 additional students to our system,” she said. 

“That’s enough to fill more than 22 elementary schools and we continue to enrol students every day.”

Enrolment growing

Her comments were echoed by Julie Kusiek, chair of the Edmonton Public School Board.

Kusiek said her district is growing by about 5,000 new students a year, which will translate into 60,000 students over the next decade. 

She said the district will require 50 new schools to accommodate them so she wants talk to the government about how to speed up more new builds and modernizations. 

“We could fill every single school in year one and two of our capital plan today with just new student enrollment over the past two years,” Kusiek said. 

“With about 5,000 new students each year, that makes about 10,000 new students over the past two years. We have enough students to fill about 10 new schools today.”

Amanda Chapman, the NDP MLA for Calgary-Beddington, and opposition education critic, said Alberta had 28,000 new students enter schools this year. The plan announced today adds 35,000 over three years, or one-third of what is required, she said. 

She pointed to the Calgary Board of Education, which will hit 100 per cent utilization of existing schools in the next two years and needs to build everything in its three-year capital plan as soon as possible. 

“We are simply running out of spaces to educate our students,” Chapman said. 

“I was incredibly disappointed by this government’s take in the budget. I don’t believe that they are bringing the action that’s needed to the crisis at this moment.”

Chapman said keeping spending below population growth and inflation isn’t workable when it comes to schools in a rapidly growing province. 

“Kids need somewhere to go to school,” she said. “They need a desk to sit in that needs to be inside a room inside a school.”

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