Wolf Creek Public Schools has come up with innovative funding measures to keep the wheels of progress moving for long overdue renovations for Ponoka schools.
At its regular meeting Sept. 5, trustees gave the go-ahead to administration to continue with renovations to Ponoka Composite High School and Diamond Willow Middle School, although there is no provincial funding available and the project is $1.45 million over budget.
To come up with the needed dollars, a portion of the funding ($366,000) is to come from accumulated capital interest earnings, and $850,000 will come from board infrastructure renewal maintenance allocations.
Renovations slated for Ponoka Composite High School, which may begin early next year, include the modernization of the Career Technology Studies wing.
The modernization of the schools will pave the way for a change in grade configuration that would see the high school house grades 7 to 12, and Diamond Willow, which now holds grades 6 to 8 become a kindergarten to Grade 6 elementary school.
The change would mean the present Ponoka Elementary School would no longer be used as a school. The school board is considering leasing or selling the building once it is vacated.
Ponoka trustee Lorrie Jess said the renovations and grade shifts are much anticipated.
“It’s been a long time coming. The changes are the best solution and are the best way to meet government regulations. We needed to fill the buildings.”
She noted Diamond Willow only has slightly more than 200 students.
“It’s pretty empty.”