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14 school projects approved in 2021 Alberta budget revealed

Click to play video: 'Answering your questions on Alberta Budget 2021' Answering your questions on Alberta Budget 2021
WATCH (Feb. 26): Dallas Flexhaug took questions from Global News viewers on the 2021 provincial budget to the Alberta government and an economist for answers. – Feb 26, 2021

The Alberta budget includes $268 million for school construction, including new schools in Calgary, Camrose, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Manning and Red Deer, and five modernizations or additions, two school replacement projects and a school ownership solution.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda announced the 14 school projects approved in Alberta’s 2021 capital budget.

Read more: Alberta budget 2021 promises more help for COVID-19 with $18B deficit

They are:

  • Airdrie: Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School Division (addition and modernization of St. Martin de Porres High School)
  • Calgary: Southern Francophone Education Region (new complex in south Calgary, Grades K-6/7-12)
  • Calgary: Montgomery School, Calgary Board of Education (funding to support ownership options for the Montgomery School)
  • Camrose: Elk Island Catholic Separate School Division (design funding for new high school, Grades 9-12)
  • Coaldale: Palliser School Division (replacement and reconfiguration of Kate Andrews High School)
  • Edmonton: Edmonton Catholic Separate School Division (design funding for new high school in north Edmonton, Grades 10-12)
  • Evansburg: Grande Yellowhead School Division (design funding for modernization of Grand Trunk School, Grades K-12)
  • Fort Vermilion: Fort Vermilion School Division (modernization of Fort Vermilion Public School, Grades K-12)
  • Lethbridge: Lethbridge School Division (new elementary school in west Lethbridge, Grades K-5)
  • Manning: Peace River School Division (design funding for new school in Manning, Grades K-12)
  • Milk River: Horizon School Division (design funding for modernization of Milk River School, Grades K-12)
  • Red Deer: Red Deer School Division (modernization to address health and safety concerns and addition to Hunting Hills School)
  • Red Deer: Red Deer Catholic Separate School Division (new middle school, full build design was approved in 2019, Grades 6-9)
  • Sherwood Park: Greater North Central Francophone Education Region (replacement and expansion of École Claudette-et-Denis-Tardif School)

Read more: Alberta budget 2021: What’s in it for Edmonton?

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LaGrange said there are 62 projects currently underway across Alberta and she expects 19 to be completed in the 2021-22 school year.

The education minister said $140 million over three years — including $90 million this year — would go towards the modular program to address the most urgent space issues. She said 8,600 new and modernized learning spaces would be created this year.

“While I understand some communities will be disappointed they won’t have a project on the list this year, I’d encourage you to think of the bigger picture,” Panda said.

In total, the 2021 budget’s Capital Plan allocates $1.6 billion over three years on school infrastructure.

Read more: Alberta school boards appreciate federal funding but some ‘disappointed’ by province’s response

Panda said that means hundreds of thousands of jobs for Albertans in areas like construction, engineering, supply and trucking.

He said the construction projects will also give an economic boost to the communities they’re in.

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Calgary school boards hire more teachers with federal funding – Sep 12, 2020

LaGrange also said the province would be maintaining education funding this year despite drops in in-person enrollment due to the pandemic.

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“All school divisions will receive either the same or a higher amount of funding for the upcoming school year starting in September,” she said. “No one will go down compared to the current school year.”

“The budget is very good news for students, parents and the whole education system,” LaGrange added.

Edmonton Public Schools division was disappointed to not be included in the announcement.

“We are one of the fastest growing school divisions in Alberta and the decision to not fund any of our infrastructure projects will impact students, staff and families,” board chair Trisha Estabrooks said.

“Edmonton Public Schools will continue to see more students, yet fewer dollars due to a frozen education budget. In today’s announcement there were zero dollars to build, modernize and/or replace schools in our division.”

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The division is grateful for the five school projects currently under construction, Estabrooks said, but it’s concerned its space needs are being “overlooked.” The board will “eagerly await” more details on the funding for modular classrooms and where they will be distributed, she added.

The Edmonton Public School Board approved its wish list for school projects over the next three years just days prior.

The EPSB agreed replacing Delton Elementary School was the priority, followed by a new junior high school in McConachie and a new K-12 school in Windermere.

Read more: Edmonton Catholic schools short modular classrooms

Meanwhile, Elk Island Catholic Schools was thrilled its request for a new high school in Camrose was accepted.

“This has been at the top of our capital planning requests for a number of years and we want to thank the Alberta government for hearing our voice on this important issue and we look forward to working with them on this exciting project,” EICS board chair Ted Paszek said.

The funding for the project will be directed towards designing the new high school “so that EICS can begin the extensive process of working with engineering, architects and our municipal partners to start the building process,” a statement from the division said.

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