Chinook Edge School Division says a new high school for Sylvan Lake is one of their top three priorities for the 2020-2023 capital plan.
However, that doesn’t mean a second high school for the town.
Instead, Kurt Sacher, Chinook’s Edge superintendent, says the plan is for a new Grade 10-12 high school, with the current high school to be repurposed as a junior high school.
“After reviewing the growth patterns and our priorities in the community of Sylvan Lake, the board did make a decision, to not only prioritize the request, but to change it from a modernization of the current high school to a new high school,” said Sacher.
The school board weighed enrolment numbers as well as the needs of the community when coming to this decision, Sacher says.
Sacher says the plan is to eventually utilize Fox Run School as a fourth public elementary school for the community.
The eventual plan is to see Fox Run become a Grade K-6 school, the current H.J. Cody will then become the Grade 7-9 and the new high school filling in the rest.
“We feel that will represent the community’s interests the best, after lots of review and discussion.”
He says the community’s growth shows the need for a fourth elementary school, and doesn’t foresee any difficulties with the community continuing with one middle and high school.
Specifically, he says the town is forecasting a growth of the younger students, and a fourth elementary school will be needed to better address their needs.
“It is something that we will have to continue to monitor over the coming years and proceed very carefully, but at this time we don’t foresee any issues,” said Sacher.
“We will have to continue to monitor the population, because if there is a upswing it typical changes things from a government stand point”
Sacher says with the student numbers, this approach will be the “most efficient.”
While the plan for a new high school in Sylvan Lake is a priority for Chinook’s Edge, Sacher says this will be a long process, and cannot begin to speculate on when a new school will be built.
The first step, he says, is to let the government know this is the plan and that it is needed for the community.
“People need to be patient with the process, with their expectations, because it typically takes years before your capital plan is honoured…”
Sacher says it will be a long process from getting approval and planning the new building to the actual building of the school, it will take a while.
Because of the long stretch of time it takes to get the process put into motion, Sacher said it was important for the board to let the government know now that the new school will be needed in the future.
Next, the board will begin talks with the government about its priority items.
“In the short term the government won’t face a lot of immediate pressure to want to honour the request, but we do believe in a few years it will become pretty clear to them that they need to act,” said Sacher, adding “we hope we will have the seed planted well enough around a new high school that we’ll get some support.”