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18 school projects announced for Calgary area in Alberta’s 2024 budget

Click to play video: 'Alberta budget includes ambitious plans to increase school spaces in Calgary and area according to government'
Alberta budget includes ambitious plans to increase school spaces in Calgary and area according to government
WATCH: The Alberta government announced funding for 18 school projects in Calgary. The 2024 budget outlined a 4.4-per cent increase in education funding, but as Jill Croteau reports, many fear it’s nowhere near enough. – Mar 1, 2024

The Alberta government announced funding for 18 school projects in the Calgary area in its 2024 budget, tabled Thursday.

The 2024 budget outlined a 4.4 per cent increase in education funding, with operating expenses up $393 million to $9.3 billion.

About $680 million in new capital funding is to go toward 43 school projects to create 35,000 student spaces across Alberta.

“Communities across the province will be seeing new and modernized schools for their students, providing them the best places to learn,” Premier Danielle Smith said Friday.

If approved, the 2024 budget will invest $2.1 billion over three years to build and modernize schools across Alberta.

Click to play video: 'Breaking down the 2024 provincial budget'
Breaking down the 2024 provincial budget

The new school projects announced Friday will translate to about 16,000 more spaces for students in the Calgary region.

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The following school projects in the Calgary area will receive full construction funding:

  • Airdrie: Rocky View Schools – New K-8 school in South Windsong
  • Airdrie: Rocky View Schools – New K-8 school in Bayview
  • Calgary: Calgary Board of Education – New K-4 schools in Evanston
  • Calgary: Calgary Catholic School District – New 10-12 school in Rangeview
  • Chestermere: Calgary Catholic School District – New K-9 school
  • Cochrane: Rocky View Schools – New K-8 school

“On behalf of the students and community of Evanston, we are pleased to receive our top priority for a new elementary school in their neighbourhood,” Calgary Board of Education chair Laura Hack said.

“This will allow some of our youngest learners to attend school closer to where they live. We also appreciate the design or planning funding for three new schools and one modernization.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta finance minister delves into 2024 budget'
Alberta finance minister delves into 2024 budget

Design funding was announced for the following projects:

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  • Airdrie: Rocky View Schools – New 9-12 school
  • Calgary: Calgary Board of Education – New 10-12 school in Cornerstone
  • Calgary: Calgary Board of Education – New K-4 school in Redstone
  • Calgary: Calgary Board of Education – Modernization of Annie Gale School (6-9)
  • Calgary: Calgary Catholic School District – New K-6 school in Redstone
  • Calgary: Calgary Catholic School District – New 10-12 school in west Calgary
  • Calgary: Conseil scolaire FrancoSud – New k-6 school in north Calgary
  • Chestermere: Rocky View Schools – New K-9 school
  • Okotoks: Foothills School Division – New 10-12 school

Planning funding has been allocated for:

  • Calgary: Calgary Board of Education – New 5-9 school in Saddle Ridge
  • Calgary: Conseil scolaire FrancoSud – New 9-12 school in north Calgary
  • Calgary: Conseil scolaire FrancoSud – New K-6 school in north Calgary

“Our goal is that all students have access to quality, faith-filled Catholic education close to where they live,” said Shannon Cook, board chair of the Calgary Catholic School District.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the provincial government to ensure that investment in school districts keeps pace with enrolment growth and is sustainable, appropriate, and equitable so that we can support the diverse needs of our students and ensure high education outcomes for our students.”

Hack said despite the announcements Friday, there is still a critical need for more learning spaces.

“Over the past two years, Calgary Board of Education has welcomed more than 13,000 additional students to our system. That’s enough to fill more than 22 elementary schools,” she said.

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Over the next three years, $24 million is being set aside to fund growth for new private schools and early childhood services operators.

Funding for private schools and early childhood centres will increase at four times the rate of public K-12 spending.

“We have a commitment as a government to ensuring that we’re supporting choice in education. That’s something that our government firmly believes in and we want to make sure that there is funding available to a variety of different educational partners and providers, be they private schools, charter schools and or others,” Minister of Education Demetrios Nicolaides said.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said about 28,000 students enter the province’s education system every year. The budget allocates enough money for that many classroom spaces but only over three years.

“It’s just over one-third of what’s required,” Notley said.

Amanda Chapman, the Opposition’s education critic, issued a statement after the school projects were announced on Friday and said the plans “will not meet Alberta’s high demand for learning spaces.”

“Our population is exploding, the diverse needs of students is already a crisis in our classrooms and all kids need safe spaces in our schools, especially as they arrive from war-torn regions of the globe. There is nothing in this budget to address these challenges right now.”

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In total, the 2024 budget laid out funding for 28 new schools, 10 replacement schools and five modernizations across Alberta. Addition projects for areas outside of the Calgary and Edmonton regions are set to be announced in the coming weeks.

— with files from Bob Weber, The Canadian Press.

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