With all three Ponoka schools having either recently been replaced or extensively renovated, the capital plan for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) has some new top priorities.
Joe Henderson, WCPS secretary-treasurer, provided trustees with the division’s revised three-year capital plan that runs from 2018 to 2020 at its meeting on March 16.
That plan, which trustees approved, places the modernization of Rimbey Junior/Senior High School as WCPS’s top priority. The rest of the top three involve facilities for Blackfalds — the modernization of Iron Ridge Elementary School (IRES) and construction of a new Grade 9 to 12 school for the community.
“Rimbey needs to be addressed soon as it is getting rundown, both in the CTS (career technology studies) section and the 1961 building,” Henderson stated.
“I’m also optimistic that Rimbey and the modernization of Iron Ridge Elementary might be addressed by the province for the coming year, which would then see the new Blackfalds 9-12 school jump to the top of our list.”
The real variable in that, according to Henderson, is the budget numbers the province is looking at along with where the government plans on spending those dollars.
With the issues in Rimbey and IRES well known and on the province’s radar, Henderson suggested that much of the board’s focus be on promoting the construction of the new 9-12 school in order to meet the rapidly growing need in Blackfalds.
In speaking to his report, Henderson pointed out that the current Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools in both Blackfalds and Lacombe are adequate regarding space for the future while Iron Ridge Junior Campus (IRJC) in Blackfalds is a bit stressed. However, he added that situation is mitigated in the short term by retaining the Grade 6 students at IRJC and the ability to add four more modular classrooms.
“The problem is, by 2019-20, the Grade 7 to 9 population will be at 108 per cent capacity. So, in the next six months to a year, it’s my suggestion the board will need to move on getting that high school built because those grades at IRJC will be as big as Lacombe Composite by 2022-23,” he explained.
“And, I would think it’s reasonable to have the high school built by then, which would create new capacity and space at Lacombe Composite. However, if those students aren’t taken out, Lacombe Composite will be at full capacity by 2023.”
A site for that new school is already in place, though with continued projected student growth, Henderson told trustees talks with the communities of Lacombe and Blackfalds should start soon on identifying sites where new kindergarten to Grade 9 schools would be constructed.
“Once the top three priorities are done, those two opportunities along with an possible upgrade for Bentley could be looked at,” he said.