The Wild Rose School Division will be holding a meeting to discuss what parents would like to see if the Breton Elementary School and the Breton High School merge together.
Brad Volkman, the superintendent for WRSD, says the elementary school is currently functioning at 70 percent capacity and the high school is at 40 percent. He says the plan is to combine the two schools into the high school with some changes to the building to make it work.
Right now, the division is in the designing stages of those modifications. He says the province has given them funding for creating a design, but they will have to wait until March or April 2024 before they know if the project will go ahead for construction.
“Typically we would hope that once we get a design together, the government would take that next step because they are spending money on the design phase,” says Volkman. He says the province doesn’t normally commit to construction right away because the situation can change.
On October 4 at 6 p.m. the division will be speaking with parents of the students to get their feedback on the potential modification. Volkman says the meeting will have some designs, but they are more focused on coming up with a planned process for making things happen.
“They can actually do it while kids are still in the school,” says Volkman. “Especially in a school that’s only 40 percent utilized.”
He says there are a couple of options being considered. One would be to move the high school students to one side of the building while construction is done on the opposite end. Once the first phase of the modifications are completed, they could move the students to the other end.
Another thought is to remove the students from the school. This alternative would likely see the modifications completed sooner, but may pose a challenge for students. Volkman says if they moved the students it would have to be for an 18-24 month period. During this time, the students would need to be moved to another location, and Volkman says the input of parents will be valuable.
“None of that has been decided, it’s all just preliminary discussions,” he says, “but we want to talk to the community about what that might look like.”
He says the way they choose to go with the construction will affect the timeline for when the elementary school can move over.
But he says that unless the province allows the project to be completed, the two schools will remain separated. He says if the division is denied the changes next year, they may have to consider a different way to approach the government. This could include a detailed list of the expenses and compare them to combining the two schools.
Volkman says it could also go in the opposite direction. He points to Evergreen Elementary School as an example. Originally, the plan was to upgrade the original school, but when the province saw the cost of that, they realized building a new school was cheaper.
“There’s lots to still be determined in the next couple of weeks,” he says.
Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press