We've reported a lot of stories in recent months about the challenges facing Airdrie's public school division.
If you attend a Rocky View Schools' (RVS) Board of Trustees meeting, you'll likely hear the trustees discuss RVS' ongoing space concerns. Particularly in the division's urban communities of Airdrie, Cochrane, and Chestermere, space is at a premium and many schools are operating above their enrolment capacity.
Our Airdrie newsroom was recently granted the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with the Alberta government's education minister, Adriana LaGrange. An exclusive interview with a sitting cabinet minister isn't a very common occurrence, so we of course jumped at the opportunity to ask LaGrange some questions about education in our coverage area.
There are two reasons we were likely granted this interview: One, an election is just around the corner, and political parties (including the governing UCP) will seek out any platform they can get to promote their successes and agendas in the coming months.
Secondly, our recent coverage of the UCP's capital budget was admittedly critical in terms of the government's lack of support for some of the communities we cover. The lack of funding for new public school builds was one such area of criticism. After the budget came out, we interviewed RVS Board Chair Norma Lang, who came out swinging. Calgary journalists took notice, and RVS' gripes with government quickly reached the pages and airwaves of some big-city news outlets.
We figure this is what led to the opportunity for us to interview LaGrange, who wanted to set the record straight on a few things. She did confirm to us that RVS' four capital priorities will be built in the coming years – it's just a matter of those projects being past the pre-planning, planning, and design stages before funding is officially confirmed.
That's great. But on the same day as our interview, RVS trustees met for their regular meeting in Airdrie, where they claimed at least two of those four school builds are already shovel-ready.
So, it begs the question – who to trust? In the world of political news coverage, that's often what it boils down to.