A serious ceiling collapse at the Calgary Board of Education's Montgomery school building — which is leased by Foundations for the Future Charter Academy — has rendered a portion of the building unfit for use.
One third of the charter academy's high-school population will now have to be moved to another building, likely for years to come.
The CBE said an early July storm damaged the ceiling of the Montgomery school building, causing portions of the suspended ceiling grid in the connecting link between the north and south portions of the building to drop in a few areas.
The building has been home to 900 high school students attending Foundations for the Future Charter Academy (FFCA).
"We've had a structural integrity failure and essentially we are unable at this point in time to enter the building," said board chair Jeff Wilson.
"We have engineers that are working on shoring up the area that failed and hopefully we will be able to host our students in the building again very soon."
But he said the building won't be fully restored, and roughly 300 students must be moved to another public school building that FFCA is leasing from the CBE in Acadia.
"Any students attending Grade 9 to 12 that reside in south Calgary, they will begin attending Dr. Norman Bethune in September," said Wilson. "Students that reside in north Calgary will continue to go to the school in Montgomery once it's available for them to enter safely."
He said this is likely a "multiple-year solution."
Wilson said FFCA was promised a replacement building for the crumbling school by Alberta Education in 2014 after an engineers' report suggested the building should not be used as a school.
"And when the government changed in 2015, there was absolutely no progress on that file until our parent community got frustrated to the point where we started a letter writing campaign to the NDP government of the day," he said.
The CBE said that since those prior inspections had identified potential structural problems, the board had regularly monitored the building and has been working with FFCA and Alberta Education to identify solutions.
"Owing to the cost of the repairs, on March 8, 2019, Alberta Education announced that a replacement school would be constructed on the Montgomery school site," the CBE said in an emailed statement.
But Wilson said the school, which will house up to 1,000 high school students, is not expected to be completed for another four years.
"So yeah, it's frustrating," he said. "But the wheels are definitely in motion and we're pleased with the progress thus far."
Wilson said this problem "compounds and exacerbates all the issues" that the charter academy has been dealing with when it comes to COVID-19 and re-entry.
"It's a major stressor that we're putting on to our students and our staff and the families that support them," he said.
"We're fighting our way through it. We're very confident that our administration is going to be able to get us there and to be able to provide students — regardless of what grade or school they end up in — with a positive experience."