Deficit raises questions about new Grimshaw school
A northern Alberta school board which campaigned to get a replacement for an aging school is wondering what will happen now that the province is forecasting a $3 billion deficit.
Officials with the Holy Family Catholic Regional School Division hoped the province would finally replace Holy Family School in Grimshaw after Premier Alison Redford promised during the election campaign to build 50 new schools over the next four years.
But the future of that new school is in question after Finance Minister Doug Horner announced on Thursday that all capital projects are now under review.
"It's disappointing. We really had such high hopes after the election that, in fact, something was going to happen," said Dianne Lavoie, chairwoman of the board of trustees for the Holy Family Catholic Regional School Division.
Frustrated by years of inaction by the provincial government, the division made a video earlier this year detailing structural problems with the 50-year-old school.
While the video angered then Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, officials felt they finally got the government's attention, so when Redford promised to build new schools, they were certain Holy Family would be on the list.
However, they've yet to hear anything since then. Lavoie plans to write Redford this week asking about a construction timeline.
"I don't think that our board is willing to be patient very much longer," Lavoie said. "We're going to be very vocal in attempting to get our school."
The province says building the schools is still a high priority. Alberta Teachers Association president Carol Henderson says it has to happen as Alberta will get 100,000 new students over the next decade.
"We're not anywhere near prepared for all those new students," she said. "They have to come up with the money."
Alberta Education wants schools to be patient as the province figures out what it can actually afford.