Modernization nearly finished as year ends
Education: Foothills School Division ready for 2018
Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 06:00 am
The Foothills School division is looking to the future for 2018.
As the finishing touches are being done for the approximately $25 million modernization of Foothills Composite High School, work is expected to be done in the next few months.
“We had major progress on the modernization at Foothills Comp to the point that it is somewhat completed,” said John Bailey, Foothills School Division superintendent of schools. “The latest information is it should be wrapped up in just a few months.”
The renovations include a new theatre, a new entranceway, learning commons area and others, including some things that aren’t apparent to the eye, such as electrical and mechanical work.
The long-awaited modernization, announced in 2014 by former premier Alison Redford, wasn’t easy for staff and students. At times it was like a mouse trying to get a piece of cheese at the end of maze for students trying to find their classrooms, which had been moved due to the renovations.
“That was a $25 million project and that takes time,” Bailey said. “The students and the parents being patient for that process have been greatly appreciated.”
Attendance within the Foothills School Division increased by about two-per-cent in September to 8,200 students. The modernization is much needed with the Comp being home to 1,100 students.
Bailey estimates the modernization gives the Comp at least five more years wiggle room to increase enrolment if current growth trends continue.
“That modernization is buying us a couple hundred students spaces — it’s buying us some time, which is good,” he said.
Work will also continue on a K-9 school being built at 32 Street, across from Holy Trinity Academy. Plans are in place to form a naming committee.
“At this point, we know it’s a K-9 school, that’s all we know,” Bailey said. “Obviously, we want to engage the community in this coming year with discussion of what will boundaries look like.”
The school is scheduled to open in September 2019.
Other highlights for 2017 included the division’s improvements to its attendance systems, to further combat chronic absenteeism from students.
Bailey added other high points of the year include the division moving into its new offices in High River and years of hard work by Turner Valley and area parents came to fruition when a new playground was built at that elementary school.
The division also had 21 candidates run for trustee positions in the municipal election in October. For the first time in division history, two trustees were elected to represent Okotoks. They are Larry Albrecht, who was selected chair in October’s organization meeting, and Sharon Nichols.
The other trustees elected were Theresa Letendre (Millarville-Priddis-Red Deer Lake), Bill Young (Heritage Pointe-Cayley-Blackie), Jennifer Kristiansen (High River) and Jeannine Tucker (Longview-Turner Valley).
However, Tucker was disqualified from the board in late 2017 due to a conflict of interest. At present, the other trustees have filled Tucker’s spot on division committees and are representing Ward 1 schools.
There has been no announcement as to if or when a byelection would be held for Ward 1.
The division also faced the loss of trustee Michael Pollard who passed away in the summer. Staff and students in the division and the Okotoks community also mourned the death of Tara Roe, who was killed in a mass shooting while attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October.
“We have really seen a lot of community support — schools, staff, parents pulling together,” Bailey said. “We have had other crises, and just the way everyone pulls together is an encouragement to all of us.”
Issues the division will tackle in the future include fine-tuning the Learner Profile reporting system.