Sylvan Lake could welcome a second Catholic elementary school in the future.
Sitting at number five on the Red Deer Catholic Regional School’s capital plan priority list is a second Catholic elementary school for the town.
Board Chair Anne Marie Watson says the new school is still years away, but the list can change as items are funded or situations change.
“We’re all kind of waiting to see what the economy brings because that also factors into it,” explained Watson in a phone interview. “If the economy’s poor like it has been families are not locating here, but hopefully the economy will improve and we’ll get back to that pattern.”
She says Sylvan Lake, like other Central Alberta towns, is a young community which results in lots of young families.
In addition to the capital plan the board can also request modulars, also known as portables, to handle population growth in schools until a new school can be built.
These modular requests are made to the government in the fall with the hopes of hearing back in the spring.
Watson says there are population pressures at École Our Lady of the Rosary School and the school board has requested two modules to address the “immediate crunch.”
“If we are successful in getting those portables they will remain at that school and with that other portables may be added over time before we get a second elementary school,” she said.
In speculation, Watson says the addition of a second elementary school would lead to the reconfiguration of grades in the schools.
For example, the two elementary school could possibly hold up to Grade 5 and École Mother Teresa School could be reconfigured to Grades 6-9 instead of the current Grades 4-9.
In regard to a Catholic high school potentially coming to Sylvan Lake, Watson says there wouldn’t be enough population for one until the swell of students move through the elementary schools.
“The time that we have that swell of population moving through our system then we can go to the government and make a strong case,” said Watson of when a high school in Sylvan Lake could appear on the board’s capital plan.
“It wouldn’t be kind of one follows the other immediately… we need to build that case over time and in order to provide a robust high school program that students are going to want to attend you do need a certain level of population,” explained Watson.
She added if a student is interested in the trades or foods they will opt to take the drive into Red Deer to take those classes rather than attend a school that does not have the options.
“That’s why we also need to make sure we have a healthy population so we can build a big enough school that offers those options.”