Addressing our High School Accommodation Needs
Phase one of our top capital priority has been announced and funded by the provincial government
Our enrollment in our elementary schools has exploded the last several years, setting records for growth almost every year. We know this group of students will reach high school in a few years. Therefore, there is an urgent need to add approximately 800 new student spaces to our high school capacity in the next few years.
The first step regarding high school space in our district is the recent provincial government announcement, funding a new high school to replace Paul Kane. This step addresses the need for an update of Paul Kane, as well as beginning to add more student space to the district. The second phase will see Bellerose Composite High School, which opened in 1988, modernized and expanded. The final phase will see a new, third high school built within the next ten years. We are working with the city to find a suitable site for this new high school and we hope it will be in partnership with another facility. The Bellerose modernization and expansion plus the building of a new high school will be dependent on government funding but they are in our capital plan.
How did we get to this stage? The provincial government undertook a study to determine the most value-added solution to meet our high school space requirements. They looked at a number of scenarios and this approach was determined to be the best for both student learning and for strategic growth. We are extremely pleased that the government realizes the very real problems we face in terms of student capacity and announced this project very quickly after the study was completed.
The existing Paul Kane opened in 1973. When undertaking modernization projects of buildings of this age, the government has been finding costly, unexpected issues. It often is less expensive and quicker to build from scratch.
Trying to teach and learn in a highly-utilized school undergoing renovations is extremely difficult. Given the very full state of all of our schools, we simply do not have space elsewhere in our district to which we can move students during renovations. A new replacement school allows the district and Paul Kane High School specifically to continue as usual in the existing building during the construction period, but will give us a modernized and expanded new school to which we can move our students, and then demolish the old building.
The project will enable the school to offer high-quality programming in a modern, collaborative learning environment with new and efficient mechanical and electrical systems. It addresses the need for the modernization of the school and the additional requires student spaces. The project is eligible for solar panel funding. We are fortunate to have enough land beside the existing school upon which to build a new one.
What’s next? We will work with the government on a design for the new school, develop timelines, and share this information with our staff, students, families and the community.
The government has said they expect the school to open for the 2022-23 school year.