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Alberta budget to pay for 58 school projects, including 10 new schools

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The Alberta budget has allocated a lot of money for education, including millions earmarked for new schools, but critics suggest the UCP government is leaning away from a public schooling model for future students.

The provincial government says it is investing $2.3 billion in education over the next three years, including support for 58 school projects.

Those include 13 full construction projects and 20 design, 14 planning and 11 pre-planning projects.

Officials say the new schools will provide space for nearly 25,000 students throughout the province.

The projects include:

  • A new Francophone high school in Airdrie;
  • Modernization of Calgary's John G. Diefenbaker High School;
  • A new K-9 school in Calgary's Nolan Hill neighbourhood;
  • A new K-9 school in Edmonton's Edgemont neighbourhood;
  • A new K-6 school in west Lethbridge;
  • A gym project at Lethbridge's École La Vérendrye;
  • Replacement of Okotoks' École Good Shepherd School;
  • Replacement of the Penhold Elementary School;
  • A new high school in Raymond; and
  • Replacement of Holy Family Catholic School in Waskatenau.

Alberta's education minister said Wednesday that if school boards are still waiting for funding for their projects, it may still come.

"Projects that are not approved for funding will be considered again when additional funding is available if they are still a top priority for that school authority," said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.

"By continuing to invest wisely and generously in our schools together, we will ensure our students receive an enriching education that positively impacts their lives and prepares them for a successful future."

The province says it will also provide "solutions" for Edmonton's École Michaëlle-Jean and École Gabrielle-Roy, Sherwood Park and Valleyview.

CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING

While education advocates welcome the investment commitment from the UCP government, some are concerned about how much provincial money is going toward charter schools.

In Budget 2023, those institutions will see $42 million over the next three years, which will be used to create spaces for about 2,000 new students in Calgary and Edmonton.

Approximately $32 million more will be spent on renovating or building new charter schools.

A spokesperson for the advocacy group Support Our Students (SOS) says after years of flat funding, the money from Tuesday's budget only respresents the bare minimum to keep up with Alberta's population growth.

It says many schools are also in need of money for dire maintenance work and resources to reduce class sizes.

"Each and every child deserves equal access to high quality public education," said Medeana Moussa with SOS, adding the provincial funding for charter schools is a step toward privatization.

"There are 93 per cent of Albertans who choose public education. This government is prioritizing seven per cent of Albertans in this budget instead of all Alberta children."

Moussa says if the trend continues, it could divert more money away from where it is sorely needed.

More details on the Alberta Budget 2023 can be found online.

(With files from Austin Lee)

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