Rocky View Schools (RVS) is taking an unusual approach to ensuring its older schools are modernized, despite the ever-pressing need the division has to build new schools in newer neighbourhoods.
The RVS Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a recommendation by RVS administration to move ahead with a major modernization of Indus School and the rebuilding of Westbrook School in the rural Cochrane area at its Nov. 18 regular meeting.
“We have these older schools that need maintenance and love. We put these facilities on the Capital Plan with the anticipation that we will get funding from the province to deal with these facilities, either through modernization or replacement,” said Colette Winter, director of planning and facilities. “We realize they’re going to be on the Capital Plan for a very, very long time so as administrators we thought, we need to do things differently.”
According to Winter, RVS accepts between 1,000 to 1,200 new students each year, leading the division to focus heavily on the building of brand-new schools. Administration decided to bring in a team of architects and engineers to look at the schools on its Capital Plan requiring significant maintenance or re-building, and prioritize them. Two, Westbrook and Indus, were deemed to be those urgently needing to be addressed.
Winter said the modernization of Indus School will cost approximately $6 million and will be funded through the division’s Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) budget. IMR monies are given annually to RVS by the province and can be used for maintenance projects.
“Indus School, which was built in the 1950s, requires the most significant upgrades,” said Darrell Couture, associate superintendent of business and operations. “Our plan is to house students in portables for the 2018/19 school year, while we strip the school to its studs and re-build.”
Work at Indus School will be completed by RVS maintenance and construction staff and will take approximately 18 months.
“This is really, really great. The Indus School really does need modernization,” Ward 2 Trustee Patty Sproule said. “It’s a wonderful environment in the school. It’s a cozy school but the environment is mostly positive because of the people there, the program there.”
Winter said Westbrook School was in worse shape than Indus School and would require a complete re-build. Because IMR funds cannot be used for new buildings, she said the money would be taken out of the division’s cash-in-lieu portfolio.
The new school will be built to the north of the existing facility at a cost of approximately $6 million and take approximately 18 months. Students are expected to move into the new school in January 2020. Consultation with parents and the surrounding rural population will be done prior to the start of construction to ensure what is built meets the needs of the community.
The board of trustees unanimously approved administration’s requests to move forward with these projects, subject to ministerial approval.