By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Lacombe Express
Wolf Creek Public Schools has presented their 2021-2023 Capital Plan, with a focus on new school buildings.
The document, presented to Alberta Education for approval, lists Iron Ridge Elementary Campus in Blackfalds, and Ecole J.S. McCormick School in Lacombe as both being a priority for replacement.
“The School itself is quite old,” said Wolf Creek Public Schools Superintendent Jayson Lovell, in regard to the Blackfalds school.
“A section (of the school) goes back to 1949. The building was really pieced together and expanded over time.”
After being built in 1949, the Iron Ridge Elementary Campus in Blackfalds was added to many times over the years, in 1958, 1963, 1965, 1971, and 1983.
More recently four modular classrooms were added to the school in 2012 and 2017.
“Based on enrollment pressures, and with the growth of Blackfalds, we started having conversations with Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Education a number of years ago,” said Lovell.
“This resulted in a value study (being done) commissioned by Alberta Education, and involved stakeholders in the school and in the community. It indicated that the school really needs to be replaced.”
Enrollment in the school is sitting around 87 or 88 per cent, according to Lovell, and the community is continuing to grow, putting further pressure on the existing school.
Ecole J.S. McCormick School in Lacombe has a similar story. The school has been in use for 66 or 67 years, and has received various upgrades, the latest in 1997.
“The mechanical and infrastructure within the school is in need of replacement,” said Lovell.
“It’s served us well over the years, but it’s in need of replacement.”
When deciding whether a school needs to be replaced or not, the school division and board look at a variety of factors, such as health and safety of students and enrollment pressures.
“We look at functionality and programming,” said Lovell.
“There’s certain requirements we need for space, and these (buildings) just don’t have it.”
With the schools being placed onto the capital plan, it will now be up to the Government of Alberta to decide when the projects will go ahead.
Funding announcements for these projects usually coincide with provincial budgets, of which Alberta just passed its most recent, with no announcement about the schools.
In the meantime, until the schools are put on the Province’s radar, Wolf Creek Public Schools board trustees will be continuing to advocate for these projects with locally-elected officials and Alberta Education.