As school boards complain about overcrowding and not enough funding, Alberta's education minister is challenging trustees to think outside of the box.

Jeff Johnson made the comment on Tuesday as the Alberta government announced the last of its 120 new schools and modernization projects.

The province is planning to build new K-9 school in northwest Grande Prairie that would accommodate 700 students.

“One of the cornerstones of our Building Alberta Plan is education and preparing our kids for their future. Last spring, I committed to building 50 schools and modernizing 70 others and that is exactly what we have done. Today we mark a milestone and I’m excited that Grande Prairie families are going to benefit from the 50th new Alberta school," said Premier Alison Redford in a release.

The 50 new schools are expected to create about 38,000 new spaces for Alberta students throughout the province.

Creative solutions needed, says minister

Even with such an ambitious plan, Alberta's education minister still hears about lengthy bus rides and overcrowded schools everywhere he travels in Alberta.

Johnson says creative solutions are needed, such as mini-schools, which he said can be a low-cost portable option for communities under pressure.

The temporary Elbow Park School in southwest Calgary — built for 185 flood-displaced students with modular classrooms and a gym — has proven the idea can work, he said.

“I think one of the silver linings that might come out of the flood is looking at new ways of doing things,” he said.

“So we've seen a lot of partnerships, we've seen a lot of school boards and community groups come together and forge partnerships with infrastructure that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise."