Rocky View Schools is exploring all options to find temporary solutions to the classroom space crisis in Airdrie and across the division.
Minister of Infrastructure Ray Danyluk recently gave RVS permission to sell the former Alberta Transit Building, now home to Cam Clark Ford on Veterans Boulevard in Airdrie.
The proceeds from the sale would be used to buy portable classrooms to expand capacity at over-crowded schools.
“However, that creates another problem,” said RVS Board Chair Sylvia Eggerer.
“We can only put so many more portables on the schools before they reach capacity. Nose Creek Elementary for example, it has 10 portables currently and can only hold two more.”
She said this is a temporary solution and although the idea was recently proposed at a board meeting, she doesn’t want to start building entire schools out of portables.
However, that may be the division’s only option. According to the RVS’ 2011-2014 Three Year Capital Plan, the Airdrie sector will reach 100 per cent utilization in 2010/2011 for all grade levels.
The problem isn’t going away. From September 2009 to September 2014, there will be an additional 3,171 students attending schools in RVS. By 2020, RVS will educate 49 per cent more students than in 2009.
The former transit building was sold to the school division by the government in 1998 for $1 to be used as a third high school. However, it was determined the cost to renovate the building from its former use to a school would be inordinate. In addition, the building was not easily accessible for pedestrians.
RVS Learning Connection operated out of the building for a time, but Eggerer said the space wasn’t conducive to an outreach school.
“We should have some place downtown in a more convenient location where people can get at it,” she said.
Eggerer feels the permanent solution to the space crunch is a private, public partnership (P3).
“If the government works with a P3 program, it could keep its bottom line in the black and build us the schools we need,” she said.
“P3s have been proven to save money. They could announce the schools and it wouldn’t be on the books until after the election.”
She said the school division requires a bare minimum of three schools, including a Grade 6-8 school in Sagewood, a high school in Airdrie and a Chestermere K-9 school.
“It takes four years for a school to be built,” said Eggerer.
“We really feel we are the fastest growing city in Canada (Airdrie), the fastest growing town is Chestermere and Langdon is the fastest growing hamlet. We feel the fact that we are growing as fast as we are was overlooked and we were not taken into consideration. We would like the government to rectify that.”