Calgary

School construction delays disappoint Calgary parents

Some families in Calgary say they were caught off guard by an announcement outlining delays in renovations and new schools. Now they're trying to find alternative places to send their kids next fall.

Calgary Board of Education says it's been open and transparent so parents shouldn't be surprised

Kristal Allen worries where she will send her 4 year-old daughter, Gabriella, to school next fall because two new elementary schools in Aspen Woods have been delayed. (Colleen Underwood/CBC news)

When Kristal Allen bought her home in Aspen Woods in 2009, part of the southwest community's appeal was the promise of two new elementary schools: one catholic and one public. Six years and one child later, construction hasn't begun on either.

"It's frustrating and disappointing. Frustrating because we don't have a lot of options... and disappointment because we were repeatedly reassured this would be done," said Allen.

She, like many other parents around Calgary, have been anxiously awaiting their community's new schools, as promised by either the school boards, or previous provincial governments.

On Monday, Education Minister David Eggen gave a sobering update on many of those new builds, saying 101 school projects across Alberta are facing delays. Seventeen of them are in Calgary.

CBE response

The Chair of the Calgary Board of Education, Joy Bowen-Eyre says these delays shouldn't come as a surprise to parents and that the CBE's website is kept up to date with each of its construction projects. 

"We have been very open and transparent about our processes," said Bowen-Eyre.

She blames the setbacks to the sheer volume of projects on the table.

"It goes back to the fact that this is completely unprecedented. The fact that we have never had 31 projects to be happening within the Calgary area, just with the Calgary Board of Education alone."

New plans

The new target date for both the public and the catholic elementary schools in Aspen Woods is January 2017, but Allen says she can't count on that date, so she's starting to feel overwhelmed.

"To be blunt, a little bit of panic I guess. I mean we are less than a year away from our child starting school and we just don't know what we are going to do, we don't know where she is going to school," said Allen.

Linsay Ingram, who lives in Cranston, is in a similar situation. Her two kids go to Cranston Elementary. Her oldest daughter is in Grade 4 and is supposed to attend the new middle school next fall. 

"Everybody is really disappointed. We were very excited for our new middle school. I know lots of parents have spent time walking past the field where it's being built and watching its progress," said Ingram.

Because the Cranston school is also not expected to be built until January 2017, the interim plan is to bus her daughter and the other students to a school about 30 minutes away in the community of Maple Ridge.

Auditor General

Minister Eggen is calling on the Auditor General to into what went wrong.

"We would welcome that," said Bowen-Eyre. "We just want to get the schools built."

The Catholic School Board did not reply to a request for an interview. 

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