Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has announced plans to create four new public schools in Calgary suburbs.
The four schools will be run by the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) in the following neighbourhoods: West Springs-Cougar Ridge, Saddle Ridge, Cranston and Aspen Woods.
The schools are being called "starter schools … constructed in phases to get students into classes before the entire school is complete."
The schools will be a collection of modular structures with no library or gym.
"Starter schools will enable children to attend schools in their own neighbourhoods," said Prentice.
The $30 million set aside for Calgary public schools will also go to portable classrooms for Westgate School to keep the Spanish program at its current location, and to plan for a new high school in south Calgary.
Each starter school will house 250 students in 10 modular structures. A permanent school would eventually be constructed beside it.
Calgary Board of Education chair Joy Bowen-Eyre says the school board will take anything it can get.
"Of course we'd like to have the starter schools completed as full-sized schools," she said.
Starter schools called a Band-Aid solution
Critics say the starter schools will lack quality.
"This is not going to be an experience that Mr. Prentice — I would say — would be proud of considering. He said in his campaign that Alberta students will not be housed in make-shift schools," said Wildrose MLA Jeff Wilson. "This is a failure. This is a Band-Aid."
There is no timeline for when the starter schools will be ready. The CBE says definitely not by next school year. The modular classrooms for Westgate School are expected by next fall.
During the leadership campaign, Prentice pledged to build more schools and borrow money if needed.
Former premier Alison Redford had promised to build 50 new schools between 2011 and 2016, with an expected cost of $2 billion. This fall, the government will provide a progress report.