Replacements for Harry Balfour School and Peace Wapiti Academy continue to be the top two capital spending priorities for the Peace Wapiti School Division.
Superintendent Sheldon Rowe says as Grande Prairie gets bigger, getting buses to the two current schools takes more time.
“You think about the location of Peace Wapiti and Harry Balfour and you’ve got kids who ride to Peace Wapiti, they’re already getting to Bezanson and Penson well before 8:30 and as the city gets larger and larger, they have to get up earlier and earlier.”
The district says it would like to see a new K to 8 for 650 kids located either east or southeast of Grande Prairie. This plus the new Whispering Ridge school would replace Harry Balfour. A new high school for 1100 students would ideally be located north of the city.
Rowe says seeing the new schools actually being built will take several years.
“The Harry Balfour one could get announced as soon as next year and that would be fantastic. Once you have an announcement, it’s going to take a couple years to get it built. As soon as that one is announced, you start working on the high school, because there’s clearly a need. Like everyone else, we’re experiencing growth. We have so many young kids in this area, we’re running out of space to put them.
He adds the province seems to wants to build schools, even with the tough economy.
“The province’s current position is that there’s a significant savings by building during this environment. If you know you are going to need them, then maybe it makes sense to build them while they’re less expensive.”
The third item on the wish list is a new K to 8 for 600 kids located in the Clairmont area.