Province announces $251 million in funding for Alberta school infrastructure

Alberta's education minister announced funding for 15 school infrastructure projects across the province on Friday.

New schools announced for Edmonton, Calgary, Camrose

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced funding for 15 school infrastructure projects Friday. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Alberta's education minister announced funding for 15 new school infrastructure projects across the province on Friday.

New schools will be built in Calgary, Edmonton and Camrose, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said, and the province will also proceed with modernizations or replacement schools in Evanston, Milk River, Cochrane, Manning and Acme. The government has earmarked $251 million for these projects and for the design of four others over the next three years.

The money will also be used to repair a water main at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy in Slave Lake.

The four schools receiving design funding are an elementary school replacement in Penhold, a new high school in Raymond and "replacement school solutions" in Valleyview and Sherwood Park.

The province said that in total, it will be spending $2 billion over three years on school infrastructure.

In addition to the 15 new school projects, the money will continue work on previously announced school projects across Alberta. Nineteen of these are planned to be completed through 2022-23, costing about $464 million.

One public, one Catholic school funded in Calgary

In Calgary, the funding will go toward a new Catholic elementary/junior high school in southeast Legacy and a new public middle school in northwest Evanston.

"These new schools are identified as top priorities by Calgary's two school boards and will be beneficial in addressing population growth and enrolment pressures in their communities," said LaGrange.

There will also be two Catholic schools built in Edmonton.

NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman said the UCP's plan still doesn't meet current needs.

"Two new schools over three years for Calgary, it's just not enough," said Hoffman. "I'm also very disappointed that Edmonton public was shut out for new schools, despite having one of the fasting growing student populations in our province. And again today, nothing for Lethbridge, nothing for St. Albert."

LaGrange said the decision to fund the two Catholic schools was based on the greatest needs.

"We have over 60 school divisions that provide their input," she said. "They put their asks, their number ones, their number twos, and so on forward. We typically have just shy of 400 requests a year for new schools or major modernizations."

She said the top ask of the Edmonton Public Schools was to replace an existing school that has "very low utilization" and no health and safety issues.

The Edmonton Catholic School District said the announcement of funding to build a high school in the northwest community of Castle Downs/Dunluce, a project that received design funding last year and that is in a community that currently doesn't have a high school, and a new elementary/junior high school in Lewis Farm are welcome news.

"We are extremely thankful for these schools, both of which are critically needed to ease significant enrolment pressures in north and west Edmonton," said Sandra Palazzo, chair of Edmonton Catholic Schools.

"Our current schools in those areas are overcrowded and students will benefit from vibrant new learning spaces to accommodate growing communities."

With files from Scott Dippel