December 5, 2015 by realrenewal
Five years after people were “invited to give their ideas on the design of this wondrous, but so far fictional, new school” there is no sign of a new facility for Athabasca students, according to local resident Neil Scott.
“When Athabasca was closed, repeated assurances were given in both public and private meetings that students would not simply be sent to an existing school,” Scott wrote in a recent Leader-Post letter to the editor.
The letter was written after Connaught parents rallied over lack of progress on a replacement for Connaught School, abruptly closed and demolished in 2014. A design has yet to be approved by the Ministry of Education, which is seeking cost reductions in the proposal. Parents have expressed concerns that the project may be scrapped in an economic downturn.
According to a Leader-Post report, Sheldon Ramstead, executive director of infrastructure for ministry, said there is no danger of this because the construction phase is in the 2015 provincial budget. If this is so, it is a change from the budget that was presented in March.
In its March budget, the province announced $19 million to be split among five non-P3 projects, including Connaught, or approximately $5 million per project – enough for consultation and design preparation. The remainder of the $157 million in infrastructure funding was primarily directed toward nine joint-use P3 builds.
There has been no new budget introduced since that time, and the government has stated it plans to go to the polls in April without first introducing the annual spring budget.
The school board was still awaiting Ministry design approval as of Dec. 5, according to its website. The board promised the School Community Council that a construction-related sign would appear on the vacant lot in November, although no such sign can be seen yet.