Calgary charter school officials fed up waiting for province to address dilapidated building

A charter school in northwest Calgary is urging the premier to take action to fix its dilapidated building.

'There's cracks in the masonry, there's sinkholes appearing'

Jeff Wilson, board chairman for the Foundations for the Future Charter Academy, held a news conference on Thursday to call on the province to take action to address its crumbling building in Montgomery. (CBC)
  • UPDATE: The academy announced March 8, that the province had agreed to build them a new school which will house 1,000 students when it's completed in two to three years.

A charter school in northwest Calgary is urging the premier to take action to fix its dilapidated building.

The Foundations for the Future Charter Academy was initially approved for modernization in 2012. But two years later, an engineer's report found the publicly funded school in Montgomery would be too expensive to fix and needed a total replacement, says board chair Jeff Wilson.

"There's cracks in the masonry, there's sinkholes appearing," he said, adding that the condition of the building has become a health and safety issue.

Under the NDP government, no progress has been made, and every year that nothing gets done, the building falls into more disrepair, he says.

"And I think that that's probably the biggest fear of our entire community because what then? The minister of education will have to find a home for 840 students overnight and there's not just extra high schools kicking around," Wilson said.

"In this school, we clearly have a shrinking timeline, and that's why I think regardless of an election year or not this is an issue that needs to be raised and needs to be addressed."

Wilson says he believes the inaction could be due to the fact that it's a charter school.

In a statement, Education Minister David Eggen says his department is working with the public and Catholic school boards to try to find a new space for the students. And he says the province remains committed to the project.

But Wilson says he's skeptical that the province is serious about taking action, and suggested it's the premier's office preventing Eggen from doing so.

"He alone holds the hammer, and, unfortunately, by his own admission, the premier has tied his hands behind his back," Wilson said.

He says a letter from Eggen suggested both sides should continue to meet and discuss solutions — an approach Wilson says has been frustratingly unproductive since the NDP took power.

"It would appear that the government of the day is only interested in doing the same thing over and over again," he said.

Wilson says he's frustrated that his school's needs get ignored while other schools are modernized or new ones built.

"We're a part of the education community in this city. We just want our students, who are Alberta students, to be treated that way. It's that simple."

Staff and students plan to hold a rally March 9 outside the McDougall Centre, the provincial government hub in Calgary.

With files from Colleen Underwood