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Chinook's Edge capital plan includes new school in Carstairs

CESD’s 2024-27 capital plan sets out five priority projects

CARSTAIRS - The Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) board of trustees has approved the school division’s 2024-27 capital plan, which includes a call for a new middle school in Carstairs.

Two of the other top priorities include a new elementary school in Olds and modernization of the high school in Innisfail.

The approval of the plan came by way of motion at the recent regularly scheduled board meeting held in Innisfail. The 11,000-student CESD is headquartered in Innisfail and includes schools across the district.

School divisions submit capital plans to Alberta Education and Alberta Infrastructure every year, outlining top priority projects the division would like to see considered.

The CESD’s 2024-27 capital plan sets out five priority projects (from first to fifth): a new Grade 10-12 high school in Sylvan Lake; modernization of Innisfail High School; a new elementary school in Olds; a new K-8 school for Liberty Landing at Gasoline Alley: and a new middle school in Carstairs or the modernization of Hugh Sutherland School.

Regarding the new Carstairs middle school or the modernization of Hugh Sutherland High School, the board identifies demographics, program changes and economic growth as key drivers.

“New 500 capacity Grade 5-8 school is requested to accommodate the growth happening in Carstairs,” the plan states. “This project would also see the demolition of portions of Hugh Sutherland School that were built in 1953 and 1958.

“If growth over the next several years does not support the building of additional instructional spaces then a complete modernization of Hugh Sutherland School be requested.”

Regarding the Innisfail High School modernization, the board identified key drivers as health and safety energy efficiencies and program changes.

“Innisfail High School was built in 1958 and modernized in 1983,” the plan states. “The building is in need of a complete modernization of the mechanical, electrical, exterior building envelope and instrumental spaces to meet the current programming and operational needs.”

Regarding the new Olds elementary school, the board identifies demographics and economic growth as key drivers.

“New 400 student capacity K-5 elementary school is need to address enrolment pressures in the town of Olds,” the plan states. “With the continued growth (of the town), CESD is in need of additional classroom space at then elementary school level. The current and projected enrolment and utilization rates are provided as support for this request.”

In other news from the recent board meeting, trustees approved the purchase of seven school buses. The division currently has 106 buses in its fleet serving the south half of the school division, with students in the northern part of the division transported through contracted services.

Trustees also received an update on planned changes to provincial funding for school transportation.

“As part of its budget the province announced that by the fall of 2024 school division will receive funding to bus elementary students who live more than one kilometre from school,” the division said in a release.

“Also, students in Grade 7 to 12 will be funded if they live two kilometres from school. Currently school division receive funding for students how live 2.4 kilometres away.”

The board will be discussing the impact of the changes on the division and will be working with staff to anticipate how many additional student would choose to ride the bus to school, and what capacity on buses will be needed, say officials.

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