No new schools means students will be turned away, warns Edmonton Catholic board

No new schools means students will be turned away, warns Edmonton Catholic board

Edmonton's Catholic board is warning that without more high-school space, the district will soon be turning away students, especially in the city's rapidly growing southwest.

On Wednesday, trustees approved the 2020-2023 district capital plan which notes that 22 new neighbourhoods in the southwest are in the early stages of residential development.

There are only four K-9 schools to accommodate those neighbourhoods.

"We project that in September 2019, that the number of seats available for students in the southwest sector will equal the number of students we have attending our schools in the southwest sector, so we're at capacity already," said John Fiacco, assistant superintendent of educational planning.

Another priority for the district is a high school in Castle Downs.

The school would ease pressure on Archbishop O'Leary High School which is operating at 104 per cent, the board said.

The plan also highlights the need for a new elementary school in Meadowlark sector. Projections indicate the David Motiuk K-9 school will be at 156 per cent capacity by 2029, officials said.

"If we don't get any more spaces, especially in the southwest sector from K to 9, by the year 2023 we'll be short 400 spaces so that means we'll be turning away 400 students from our school district," Fiacco said.

The board was shut out of the provincial budget in March 2018, receiving no money for new schools.

But none of that money went to projects of the city's Catholic school district.

Catholic officials are hopeful there will be new announcements in this year's budget, Fiacco said, adding that funding was provided for an elementary school and a replacement school after the 2018 budget.  

The capital plan also proposes partnering with the City of Edmonton to open a high school connected to Lewis Farms Recreation Complex. It would mirror a partnership in Clareview at Cardinal Collins High School Academic Centre.

The district says it would provide young adults with flexible high school programming for First Nations, Metis and Inuit students as well as English language learners.

The plan will now be sent to Alberta Education for review and possible future funding.