The plan needs to be approved by Alberta Education before any action can take place.
“I am very happy with the decision. It is what is best for kids. If you provide a good school, you keep students in their rural area,” said board chair Rob Kenworthy. “What we have been trying to do all this time is maintain a school out there. Education in rural areas is very important.”
The location of the stand-alone school is proposed to be near the intersection of Highways 842 and 561, near a current UFA keylock and oil sales outlet.
This year, the division was required to submit its Capital Plan by May 1, two months earlier than in previous years. The division hosted a public forum on the possibility of a K-12 school at its office on April 24. Kenworthy said it was a worthwhile meeting with valuable information coming from stakeholders.
“It was different than a lot of board discussions in there was give and take, and a lot of informal discussion. We learned a lot, and I think the people in the community learned a lot,” said Kenworthy.
He adds some of the concerns were the selected location, while other still wished the proposed school be a 7-12 school, and keep elementary school in each individual community.
“If you want to make it a financially stable project, you have to go with the K-12,” said Kenworthy.
The board voted on the Capital Plan the following Tuesday, to meet the truncated timeline. Kenworthy says the board hopes to hear from the Department of Education by the end of June, and is hoping to meet with school councils in the near future. They also want to correspond with the Department of Education on why this plan is effective.
“We can have cost recovery in 12 to 15 years, and have a very innovative and creative program out there, something that would be considered by the Department of Education even though it said there will be no new infrastructure. They did leave an opening for innovative and creative projects, we think we apply,” said Kenworthy.