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2 Edmonton schools scheduled to open in September won’t be ready

Click to play video 'Pair of new Edmonton schools facing major construction delays' Pair of new Edmonton schools facing major construction delays
WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Public School Board has announced serious construction delays for two new schools slated to open this fall. Sarah Kraus has more on the delay – Jan 27, 2017

Kim Hung School and Shauna May Seneca School, two Edmonton public schools that were set to welcome students this fall won’t open until Jan. 8, 2018.

The Edmonton Public School Board said the change is due to construction delays.

The Shauna May Seneca School site is next to a wetland area, and the district says a wet summer made it difficult to prepare the ground for construction, build a foundation and install underground services.

Meanwhile, the general contractor for Kim Hung School has “advised Edmonton Public Schools the opening of that school will also be delayed,” the district said in a news release.

READ MORE: 30 new schools needed in next 15 years for student population boom: Report 

Until the new schools are complete, future Kim Hung students will be hosted at Michael Phair School in the west end. Future Shauna May Seneca students will be hosted temporarily at Jan Reimer School in the southeast.

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“The students and teachers of each delayed school will work together as a ‘school-within-a-school’ while they are at their temporary home, just like they would in their own building,” said Chris Wright, managing director of Infrastructure at Edmonton Public Schools.

“The principals and staff of the four schools involved will do everything they can to make the students feel comfortable and to make the move to the new schools as smooth as possible.”

READ MORE: New schools in Alberta: Will they open on time? 

Edmonton Public Schools will provide transportation to the temporary host schools at no cost to students who need it. Options for out-of-school care are being worked on, the district said.

“We plan for these kinds of situations and the short-term delay of these two new schools will not affect our overall plan to meet the needs of students in our rapidly growing city,” Wright said.

The schools are among 11 new ones that were set to open September 2017. The district says the other nine new schools under construction are on schedule to open Sept. 5, 2017, the first day of class for the 2017-18 school year.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Alberta Education said:

“Certainly we understand this is very disappointing for all families involved, but we are confident in the steps that the Edmonton Public School Board has taken to accommodate students until the new schools are set to open. EPSB has a fantastic track record with building projects on time and unfortunately this delay is beyond their control.”

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“Our top priority is to provide safe, high-quality schools for students and this plan minimizes disruption while allowing Kim Hung and Shauna May Seneca Schools to build their own culture from the start of the school year,” Wright said.

Kim Hung and Shauna May Seneca Schools will offer Kindergarten to Grade 7 in 2017-18 and then add Grade 8 in 2018-19 and Grade 9 in 2019-20.

READ MORE: Decision made to deal with enrolment pressures at Michael Strembitsky School 

There have been huge enrolment pressures in Alberta recently and Edmonton Public Schools has had to make a number of decisions to address population growth, including changing attendance boundaries in some regions.

“We have, as you mentioned, delivered nearly 10,000 seats in the last year to the district and in these two instances, this slight delay is going to have all support we can muster,” Wright said. “We’ll have children in at the winter break.”