CHESTERMERE — Local students received plenty of good news in the past week as Premier Ed Stelmach announced four new schools are expected to be built around the Rocky View area by 2014.
Stelmach made the announcement on May 24 at Airdrie’s George McDougall High School. Three of the schools are expected to be built in Airdrie and a K-9 school is planned for Chestermere.
“This is part of a government investment to address pressing and growing student enrolments in two of the fastest growing communities in Alberta and responds to concerns we’ve been hearing for some time,” Stelmach said. “Education is foundational to the success of our students who will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of the province, and this is a sound investment in our children’s future.”
Stelmach added it’s the right time to borrow money before construction prices skyrocket. Ray Danyluk, minister of infrastructure, said the government will create buildings that work for students, teachers and the entire community.
“Alberta Infrastructure will deliver high quality schools that are bright, welcoming spaces, equipped with the latest technology, and designed to adapt to changing educational needs,” Danyluk said.
The new schools are part of a $550-million investment in the provincial education system, which includes 22 new schools and 13 modernization programs. Stelmach’s announcement comes at a time when many communities are desperate for more educational facilities. An additional 100,000 Albertan students are expected by 2020.
An extra 6,000 students are already projected for September, and many communities are already feeling the squeeze. For instance, thirteen-year-old Airdrie student Leah Moore collected over 3,000 signatures asking the province to fund more schools in her town, last November.
Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson recently called Moore a “courageous local student advocate.” He added many communities have been left out in the past and the announcement should’ve come prior to the last provincial election.
However, Anderson said it’s better to fix the problem now than “continue to play politics with the future of our children’s education.”
“The parents, students, teachers and all residents of Airdrie and Chestermere have been waiting and hoping for this day for a very long time,” Anderson said. “Let’s enjoy the victory and re-double our efforts to ensure our children receive the best education possible, especially while we manage our overcrowded schools while these new schools are being built.
The projects are expected to be funded through a combination of private and public funds. However, Liberal critic Kent Hehr said he’d like to know how the provincial government can announce new-school funding when The Alberta Teachers’ Association is expected to cut over 1,000 positions in the upcoming year.
“Maybe they need a course in remedial math, assuming they can find a teacher,” Hehr said.
Hehr added, “I don’t want students and parents wandering the empty hallways of these new schools, looking in vain for teachers.”