Alberta government’s new school promises under fire

WATCH ABOVE: After an update from the province, some are looking at the school sites and saying the promises are merely electioneering. Fletcher Kent explains.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s infrastructure minister offered an update Monday on the 230 new school and modernization projects. However, some parents and school boards are confused by the claims.

There are several sites in Edmonton where a school is supposed to open by Sept. 2016 but the site is inactive. Some sites listed by the government as “under construction” are empty, although a few sites recently had fences erected around them.

READ MORE: Alberta committed to building schools despite fiscal challenges: province 

According to the province’s documents, construction on the proposed Corpus Christie Catholic School in the Ellerslie area will start in December and will open nine months later. The school board says it just heard from Alberta Education that the promised opening date is now “to be determined.”

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“As you can imagine, we have 230 plus school projects in the province,” said minister Manmeet Bhullar.

The province says all sites where contracts have been awarded are technicially under construction. However, work may not have begun yet.

“The PCs are ramping up for the election,” said NDP MLA Deron Bilous, “continuing to make promises and, quite frankly, mislead Albertans on the progress that they’ve made.”

READ MORE: Alberta premier announces ‘largest ever’ school construction project 

The update has left many questions from those hoping for new schools.

“It’s exciting that new schools are being built because I definitely think it’s needed,” said parent Melissa Munro.

“But, until I see ground actually being broken, I’m not going to hold my breath.”

Edmonton Public Schools says its schools are largely on track. There are slight descrepencies between the school board’s figures and the province’s. The province says four schools originally listed as starter schools will open in Sept. 2016. The school board says those will open in Dec. 2016, but isn’t sure if students will move in then or wait until the next school year.

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Five other recently announced schools are supposed to open in Sept. 2017. The school board hasn’t set an expected completion date for those projects.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News

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