Building a replacement school in Greater Highlands?

The crowd at Highlands School
The crowd at Highlands School

When was the last time we talked about opening a new school in the urban core, rather than closing one down?

Packed into the gym of the hundred year-old Highlands Junior High School, hundreds of school and community members heard about plans to replace three already existing schools with a brand new Kindergarden to Grade 9 school.

The provincial government has presented the Edmonton Public School Board with a funding opportunity to build a replacement school for a mature community in Edmonton’s urban core.

The school board has identified the Greater Highlands Area, the Greater Lawton Area and the Greater Westmount Area as potential areas for the new school. Only one of these areas will be selected for the first, of what could be many, replacement school.

While there remains a number of unanswered questions about the project and how it will impact the community, I am generally excited about the prospect of a new school being built in the community I call home.

While the currently existing schools – Highlands, Mount Royal and Montrose – are important community hubs, they are also old buildings facing the challenges of low-enrolment and growing maintenance costs.

Capacity and Enrolment: Capacity represents the maximum number of students that can attend the school. Enrolment represents how many students are currently attending the school.
Capacity and Enrolment: Capacity represents the maximum number of students that can attend the school. Enrolment represents how many students are currently attending the school.

If the Greater Highlands area is chosen as the spot for the new school, there is also an opportunity to coordinate with the reconstruction of 112th Avenue and 50th Street and the construction of the new Highlands Branch of the Edmonton Public Library.

Of course, it is important that a new school be accessible to all members of the Greater Highlands community, including the more ethnically diverse community living north of 118 Avenue in Montrose area. A new school in this area must recognize and be inclusive of our city’s fast-growing urban aboriginal population.

Improvements to schools are an important part of revitalizing mature neighbourhoods, as they will help attract and retain young families who want to live core communities. It’s part of building a smart city.

I look forward to further participating in the consultation process and am grateful that school board has opened up this process to the community.

The Public School Board has presented out their community consultation timeline for the project:

April 22-24, 2014 – First Public Meetings
May 20-22, 2014 – Second Public Meetings
June 19, 2014 – Final Public Meetings
June 24, 2014 – Site selection for replacement school will be presented to the School Board to Trustees

Update: This website is currently experiencing some technical difficulties with the hosting service that are preventing comments from being posted. I hope to have this resolved by the end of the day. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your comments on the daveberta.ca page on Facebook. Thanks for your patience. – Dave

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