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Rocky View Schools Division feels ignored by the Smith government

Rocky View Schools (RVS) Rocky View Schools (RVS)

A board that operates more than 50 schools in the Calgary area says its buildings are bursting at the seams and it's disappointed that it was left out of Danielle Smith's first budget.

The Rocky View School Division (RVS) says it is suffering from a "space crisis" and had high hopes that a handful of projects would be approved and funded for construction.

"RVS asked Alberta Education to approve and fund a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school in Airdrie, a Kindergarten to Grade 5 school in Cochrane, a Kindergarten to Grade 9 school in Chestermere and a high school in Airdrie as the top four critical priorities in our Capital Plan," said RVS' director of communications Tara de Weerd in an email to CTV News.

She adds the proposals are crucial to education, especially considering that in just a few years, all of its schools would be over capacity. Right now, de Weerd says, several schools are already over 101 per cent enrollment.

According to its data, schools in the city of Airdrie are 92 per cent utilized, Cochrane schools are at 97 per cent capacity and those in the city of Chestermere are 96 per cent utilized.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced Wednesday that progress was being made on 58 school projects, with full construction funding being given out to 13 projects.

The four projects RVS is referring to were in the announcement, but they aren't among those the province is paying to be built.

The government has a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school in Airdrie listed as "design funding," a Grade 9 to 12 school in Airdrie as "school planning," while the other two projects – in Cochrane and Chestermere – are considered to be in the "pre-planning" stage.

RVS is still waiting on the province to define what those terms mean.

"Sites are shovel-ready for Airdrie K-8 and Cochrane K-5 with the other two schools to be site-ready in 2023," she said.

She says without the commitment to construction from the province, student education will suffer.

"It takes about three years to build a new school after a division receives construction funding approval. While receiving some design, planning and pre-planning funding offers some hope for new schools in the future, it pushes that space relief out for Airdrie high school students and Cochrane and Chestermere elementary students to five to six years or more."

Alberta Education says all of the school projects mentioned in Budget 2023 are considered "priority needs" and those include the four submissions made by RVS.

"Budget 2023 introduces clear steps and key activities that school boards need to complete to move to full construction," said Savannah Johannsen, senior policy advisor with Alberta Education in an email to CTV News.

"We heard from school authorities that they need additional funding to support the early identification of capital needs to support comprehensive project planning. These processes introduced in Budget 2023 clearly outline the activities that school authorities need to complete in order to ensure they can proceed to construction in a timely manner when construction funding is provided."

Johannsen adds if construction funding is available, any of the projects may move ahead.

"It is important to note that school authorities are not required to complete every stage before going to construction funding. Depending on readiness and ability to complete the required steps prior to construction, projects may accelerate at different rates," she said."

The province also provided definitions for each of the stages of school development in Alberta:


The design funding approval provides a funding commitment to projects to allow the project management team to complete the front-end project work, such as procurement of the consulting team, additional geotechnical investigation and permit applications that may otherwise impact the schedule. In Budget 2023, Alberta’s government commits $372 million between design and full construction projects. Individual funding allotments are dependent on the size and scope of the project.



Planning funds are intended to allow for further development of project scope and to advance site investigation work, and to help clarify potential risks and identify mitigating strategies and costs. The goal is to remove barriers and better position the project for consideration of design and construction approval in a future budget cycle. In Budget 2023, Alberta’s government commits $4 million for planning projects. Planning funds are approximately $285,000 per project.



Pre-planning- Pre-planning allows for a conceptual project to define basic scope elements, such as grade configuration, capacity, and location. This funding is intended for projects that are anticipated to significantly increase in priority in the next three-to-five years. This includes projects in new or developing neighbourhoods. In Budget 2023, Alberta’s government commits $1 million for pre-planning projects. Pre-panning funds are approximately $90,000 per project.

The province estimates it would take approximately 18 to 24 months to build any of the projects that are "fully ready" for construction. Top Stories

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