Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford promised Wednesday to build 50 new schools and renovate 70 more over the next four years at a cost of $2.4 billion.
New schools are also planned for Fort McMurray, Airdrie, Grande Prairie, Okotoks, Leduc, Beaumont, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge as well as in Edmonton and Calgary.
Redford said the school projects will cost about the same as two years' worth of energy dividends promised by the Wildrose Party. She says Albertans need to decide whether they want schools or "Danielle dollars" when they cast their ballot.
"There is a choice for Albertans to make in this election. A clear difference of priorities," Redford said. "I'm glad for this choice. This is why I entered politics. My priority is schools for children. That is my choice."
The Tories said in their announcement that the northern Alberta town of Grimshaw will get a new school.
Grimshaw is the home of Holy Family School which made headlines earlier this year after the school division made a video to raise awareness about structural and maintenance issues in the 50-year-old building.
Inadequate heating has forced students to wear winter coats whenever they use the library. Principal Cara Ostermeier spends hours each week dealing with building problems — time she feels should be devoted to her students.
While it isn't clear if the school earmarked for Grimshaw would replace Holy Family School, a campaign official acknowledged that it is likely, given the condition of the existing building.
School board chair Dianne Lavoie says Redford's announcement gives her hope.
"While we realize it is a campaign promise, this is very, very good news for us," she said. "And we are very optimistic that everything will work out."
The school division has been asking the province for a new building for about a decade.