CALGARY -- Some students at a northwest Calgary charter school will have to attend classes in a different building following a ceiling collapse.

Foundations for the Future Charter Academy operates its high school in the old Montgomery Junior High School and the school’s board of directors notified parents Aug. 12 that the ceiling had collapsed in the structure that links the north and south buildings. 

“Our understanding of it is simply that at this point there was a structural integrity failure,” said board chair Jeff Wilson.

“Independent engineers prohibited anyone from entering the building and so, quite frankly, we haven’t even received full report on where the crux of the problem is.”

Wilson says the two separate buildings that make up the school date back to the mid-1950s. The school is at the bottom of a hill and has suffered long-time drainage problems. It was earmarked by the province in 2014 as needing to be replaced but to date, nothing has been done, which parents call frustrating.

“Compounding all the exasperating with COVID and re-entry, we now have this major stressor that we’re putting on our students, staff, and the families that support them,” said Wilson.

“So, yes, it’s really one of those worst-case scenarios that has happened, but we’re confident in our administration and Alberta Education are going to be supporting us as we fight our way through this.”

Colin Aitchison, presss secretary for the minister of education, says the government is working with the school on the costs associated with this damage and on next steps.

“Regarding the funding, the delays surrounding the construction of a new school are a result of the NDP’s inaction to support charter schools across Alberta,” he said in a statement.

“We are working with FFCA to move this project forward as fast as possible.”

FFCA has worked with the province and Calgary Board of Education to come up with a solution. Students who live in the south part of the city will now go to Dr. Norman Bethune School in Acadia while students in the north section of the city will continue to attend their Montgomery High school.

Wilson hopes that by reducing the number of students at the Montgomery school, construction can begin on FFCA’s new facility, which will likely take three to four years to build.

“In some ways there might be a small silver lining here (by finding) additional space as it were during the construction phase,” said Wilson. “So we’re hopeful that no more students will be disrupted or need to be disrupted during the construction of this.”

Foundations for the Future has upward of 3,600 students attending seven campuses across Calgary. The school has a 14,000 student waiting list.

Nearly 900 students go to the high school.

Wilson says the board will be hosting a telephone town hall sometime next week to answer questions parents may have about the new arrangement and construction plans.