New high school not a current priority in Sylvan

New high school not a current priority in Sylvan

Funding for upgrades, new facilities ongoing struggle, says Chinook’s Edge Superintendent Kurt Sacher

A new public high school for Sylvan Lake is not currently in the cards, according to Chinook’s Edge Superintendent Kurt Sacher.

While Sylvan Lake’s Ecole H.J. Cody School is a priority for the school division, a new high school currently is not.

Sacher said it is a little more complicated than just wanting something done.

“The Board has to set its priorities and submit those to the Ministry of Education who decides if funding will be given or not,” Sacher explained.

The board set it’s priorities as portable extensions for Jesse Duncan School in Penhold, an expansion for the school in Carstairs and the modernization of Ecole H.J. Cody School.

The Penhold project will receive funding from the Province, but the other two projects were denied this year.

The Board felt confident when submitting the Carstairs project to the Province for funding, as the student body there has seen a lot of growth recently.

“With Carstairs being denied, it really just shows how much [the Province] is struggling to provide funding,” said Sacher.

Sacher says modernizing the current high school in Sylvan Lake is the priority for the Chinook’s Edge School Board at the moment.

Modernizing the school includes a lot of “behind the scenes” items that will make daily life better but isn’t necessarily seen, according to Sacher, just as looking at the air flow in the building.

Sacher says modernizing the school would also include upgrading the current technology.

“We want to make it a more appealing environment,” said Sacher. “We feel the staff and students deserve it.”

While a new high school isn’t currently on the books for Chinook’s Edge, Sacher says the Board has looked into it.

Discussion surrounding the possibility of a public new high school has occurred, but currently the feasibility and funding isn’t available to look further.

“Long term another high school [for Sylvan Lake] would be ideal… At the moment it just isn’t in the plan,” said Sacher.

At the moment a Catholic high school for Sylvan Lake is not a top priority for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS).

While the RDCRS board has definitely seen the need for a high school in Sylvan Lake is present, it isn’t part of the current three-year capital plan.

“It takes a lot of planning and work with the board and the Ministry of Education to build a new high school,” said Paul Mason, superintendent of RDCRS. “It takes time.”

The board has included it in its 10-year plan, but over the next couple years it isn’t the priority.

For a new high school to be built, RDCRS says it would need a minimum of 500 students. While a new K-5 is considered a priority, right now a high school is not.

“Based on the growth we are seeing in Sylvan Lake, we believe within the next 10 years there will be enough students in the Catholic system to attend a high school in Sylvan Lake,” said Mason.

The need for a Catholic high school in Sylvan Lake is noted by the school board. As the population of the town grows the board will begin planning and looking at working with Alberta Education on building a new high school.

Planning for a new school for Grade 10-12 students includes the need for diversity and having classes which will appeal to students.

“We are excited about the growth we are seeing in Catholic education in Sylvan Lake and look forward to working with the town to expand on it in the future,” Mason said.

Currently French Immersion students in RDCRS from Sylvan Lake attend high school at Ecole Notre Dame in Red Deer. Those not in French Immersion attend the St. Joseph’s, also in Red Deer.

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