Two new Edmonton high schools get design funding from province

Edmonton Public Schools is getting funding to start design work on a new $79-million high school in The Meadows, in southeast Edmonton. Edmonton Catholic is also receiving money to design its new $55-million high school in the Heritage Valley area.

Edmonton school boards also each getting a new K to 9 school

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the province will fund design work for two new Edmonton high schools. (Dave Gilson/CBC )

The Alberta government is funding the design of two new high schools in rapidly-growing areas of south Edmonton. 

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange revealed funding for the Edmonton projects at an event in Calgary Friday where she announced her government is allocating $374 million for 25 new school projects across the province. 

Edmonton Public Schools is getting funding to start design work on a new $79-million high school for 1,800 students in The Meadows area of southeast Edmonton.

Edmonton Catholic is also receiving money to design its new high school in the Heritage Valley area of the city. The project is estimated to cost $55 million and will have room for 1,300 students.

LaGrange said design for new high schools can take about a year and a half to three years. But she said the schools will be built. 

"It would make no sense to allocate dollars for design if the intention was that we wouldn't move forward on the build," she said.

Costs undisclosed 

The government is keeping the specific amounts allocated for the design work a secret for now to avoid influencing the bidding process. 

Edmonton Public Schools is also getting funding to build a new $33-million kindergarten to Grade 9 school in the Windermere/Keswick area.

The Catholic school board is also getting funding for the plan at the top of its capital priority list: a new $31-million kindergarten to Grade 9 school in Keswick.

Both schools will be built in the residential areas outside of the Anthony Henday Drive in the city's southwest. 

The Meadows high school is at the top of the infrastructure priority list for Edmonton Public Schools. 

Board chair Trisha Estabrooks admitted the cuts announced in last week's provincial budget put that funding for that project in question. 

"We did see certainly cuts to our operating budget so we were concerned," she said. "So there is a sense of relief today."

Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, NDP education critic, is pleased to see the government come out with a capital list for schools and the funding to begin design work. 

Classroom funding a concern

Hoffman, a former Edmonton Public Schools board chair, worries though about funding for classrooms.

"Estimates are that at least $200 less per student is being distributed to schools to help with the growing pressures that they're facing in enrolment," Hoffman said 

She points to the elimination of the classroom improvement fund and the class-size initiative, and the removal of funding to reduce schools fees, as ways schools are being affected. 

Fifteen of the 25 projects announced by LaGrange on Friday are new builds. Six are replacements for aging buildings and four are modernizations or additions to existing structures. 

Edmonton Catholic Schools board chair Laura Thibert said the need for the Keswick kindergarten to Grade 9 school was "crucial."

She said three-quarters of the residential lots in Keswick still need to be developed and the closest school was already overcapacity.


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