CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
Speculation continues to abound about what the Alberta government’s commitment to upgrades at Diamond Willow Middle School will mean for the future of students in Ponoka.
MLA Ray Prins confirmed that the government has committed to funds for DWMS but wouldn’t elaborate on how much those funds were or where they would be spent.
“We are committed to some work on the elementary school,” said Prins after his recent tour of PCHS. “The school board has plans here…and there are a number of phases not just in the high school but in elementary, junior high schools as well.”
The news has many parents, teachers and students wondering if the money will be used to complete a proposed upgrade that has been planned for a long time.
“What we did a few years ago was a value management study. The ministry of education came down and we had two or three meeting where we looked at the entire Ponoka sector and discussed how we could make the most efficient educational system here in the town of Ponoka,” said Wolf Creek Public Schools superintendent Larry Jacobs.
At that point the first order of business was the modernization of the high school but Jacobs said they also looked at efficiencies throughout the education system.
“They talked about a modernization of Diamond Willow, making it big enough that it could handle all of the kids in the K to 8 range. And then at some point the old pink building is in bad shape and it might be demolished,” said Jacobs. “Then what we would do is set up the Outreach School inside of the old brick building.”
The school division and public has been kept in the dark about how much money they will receive and it’s believed that is part of a plan to keep contractor costs down on the upgrades.
With past upgrades to schools the government has released the amount of money the school will receive but the confirmation allowed contractors to get a feel of the funds available.
“We haven’t been told about the exact money or the exact design but we have had the assurance from the ministry that they will complete the modernization of the high school and of Diamond Willow,” said Jacobs.
The school board plans to meet with Minister of Education Dave Hancock to get a feel for ‘what it really looks like at those two sites in the next two to three years.