Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 11, 2008
Education leaders cheer at news of new schools
Public-private model means cost-efficient building - Ron Liepert
By RAMON GONZALEZ
“Anything that can put schools in the neighbourhoods for our kids I’m open-minded about it.”
- Cindy Olsen
The district is looking to have the Terwillegar School built by 2011. The students who will attend it are currently going to schools all through southwest Edmonton.
The 14 schools, to be built on common designs, are the second phase of a project first announced last June. Under the first phase, 18 new schools were announced for Edmonton and Calgary.
All 32 schools will be built under a public-private (P3) model, which Education Minister Ron Liepert has described as quicker and cost-efficient. Critics, however, fear that under the P3 model costs will be higher and quality of construction could suffer. The approach incorporates design, financing, construction and long-term maintenance of boilers and roofs.
Olsen said she is pleased with the P3 approach “because it is supposed to build schools more efficiently, quicker and at a better cost.”
“Anything that can put schools in the neighbourhoods for our kids I’m open-minded about it,” the Edmonton Catholic board chair said. “If the government is saying that for them this is the most efficient and the best way for us to get the schools then I’m certainly willing to see how it goes.”
Tony Sykora, chair of the Elk Island Catholic board, is also excited about the announcement. “It’s something that’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We identified the new Catholic high school as priority one on in our capital plan for as number of years now.”
Sykora is forecasting a population of 1,400 for the new school, which he says will relieve pressure at Archbishop Jordan High School, which now has more than 950 students and was built for 750.
“We believe we have been treated very fairly (by the government) and we are happy we can provide a brand-new, modern Catholic high school for our students in Sherwood Park.”
Sykora is comfortable with the P3 approach because it is a way to get schools built quicker and at less cost to the taxpayer. “As long as all partners in the P3 conform to what we see as proper as Catholic schools, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
The Evergreen Catholic School Division will get a regional high school for 800 students from Spruce Grove and Stony Plain. “We are just absolutely ecstatic we are getting this school because we have been lobbying (for it) for a long time,” said board chair Caren Mueller.
“And with our other schools basically filled to capacity, it definitely came at the right time. It is going to allow us reconfigure our schools and our classrooms and definitely give all our students the space that they require.”
The new school will be built in 2011 or 2012 in a field behind Holy Trinity Church.
“It’s not going to make any difference for us how the government plans on funding it,” Mueller said
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.