New schools depend on provincial funding

explain | capital planning

contact | Board of Trustees

1 & 2 | Joy Bowen-Eyre
3 & 4 | Lynn Ferguson
5 & 10 | Pamela King
6 & 7 | George Lane
8 & 9 | Pat Cochrane
11 & 13 | Sheila Taylor
12 & 14 | Carol Bazinet
Alberta needs more schools for our students. We need many more schools and we need them now. The need is going to get worse before it gets better. This is especially true for the Calgary Board of Education.

What makes the CBE situation more serious and more urgent? The simple answer has three factors: growth, capacity and expectations.

The growth puts pressure on our existing 225 schools. We use the number of students and the school’s capacity to calculate school “utilization.” Our goal is for the overall system average utilization to be about 80 per cent. At this level, schools can use space flexibly for learning.

Some CBE schools are overcrowded with utilization above 100 per cent; a small number of inner-city schools are closer to 60 per cent. The overall average is just above our target of 80 per cent—well above the provincial average, which is about 70 per cent.

In the coming years, our schools are going to become more crowded. Before we can open another new school, our utilization will reach almost 87 per cent. The only solution is more capacity.

The third factor relates to the high expectations Calgarians have for their students and their education. The CBE is one of the best public education systems in the world. Still, expectations for improvement, choice, career pathways and learning continue to rise. Students want more.  Parents want more. Employers want more. As a system with high aspirations, we want more for our students too.

So if there is huge growth and shrinking capacity, what does it take to get new schools? New schools depend entirely on provincial funding.

The CBE depends on the province for 100 per cent of funding for new schools. As a board, when we meet with parents, this sometimes comes as a surprise. Parents say, “Why doesn’t the CBE build more schools?”

The truth is that Alberta school districts cannot build schools without provincial funding. The government has promised Albertans 50 new schools and 70 major modernizations for the entire province. It may seem like a lot of construction but it isn’t nearly enough given the need.

The CBE has one-sixth of the students in Alberta and our three-year capital plan requests 16 new schools and 20 major modernizations. The total estimated cost of these priority projects is $667 million.

As a system, we do hope that the province will keep its promises to build the capacity students
need. It has been more than five years since the last new school was announced in Calgary and it will take at least three years from a decision for a single new school to open.

Although our province faces a challenging budget, we remain hopeful that the government will keep its commitment to fund new schools for our students in Calgary.
 

 


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Last Modified: March 1, 2013