The David Thompson High School Corridor Solution has been approved by the Alberta government.
The Wild Rose School Division (WRSD) announced the approval will include the modernization of an elementary school, the building of a replacement high school and the closure of David Thompson High School.
David Thompson High School (DTHS) was originally set for modernization when a mandatory closing date was given when an issue with the sewage lagoon problem was discovered.
The cost to bring the lagoon up to code was too high and the government suggested closing the school officially by Dec. 31, 2021.
The proposed, and now approved solution, is cutting the three Corridor schools down to two.
Greg Wedman, deputy superintendent of WRSD, says the plan will have the school in Condor modernized to support the kindergarten through Grade 6 students from Leslieville and Condor.
Currently, the there is a kindergarten to Grade 7 school in both Condor and Leslieville.
The elementary school in Leslieville will be replaced with a new high school for Grade 7-12 to make up for the loss of DTHS.
“The community out there in the Corridor has been long waiting and they’ll still have to be a little patient waiting for the build to happen and through the design,” said Wedman. “Once things start going up it’s going to add some exciting pieces that are important to those communities that will be there for a long time.”
Wedman added it is still too early to speculate when construction will begin as they haven’t heard from the government since the initial announcement.
He explained the WRSD board will be meeting with them soon to discuss timeline and design.
“Our intent would be to have them done as close to the same time,” said Wedman, who added these projects usually see a three-year timeline.
The elementary school in Condor would likely be fully operational during the modernization, says Wedman, with different sections of the school closed off at different times to assure there is room for the students.
In terms of the high school, he says, they hope the government could provide an extended deadline for DTHS’ closure to be able to move the students directly into their new school in Leslieville.
Wedman says the government will provide enough money to build what is called a “right sized” school for the populations, but there is always fundraising that can be done for add-ons such as playgrounds or a larger gym.
A community group called the Friends of the Corridor Schools has been looking for ways to help and enhance the schools, as well as the community, with additions during the build.
Wedman says the announcement showed the importance of schools in rural Alberta and how WRSD is looking at the efficiencies.
“That’s one of the reasons that I think this project was approved is we were looking at three schools, three older schools, and to be able to modernize one [and] build a new one to two schools will create much more efficiencies in the short term and the long term,” commented Wedman.