Portable classrooms not ready in time
Education: Catholic students to be houses at Memorial Centre
By: John Barlow
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 10:18 am
In a word, Alberta’s Education Minister said he is disappointed portable classrooms ordered just after the June flood will not be ready for the start of the school year.
Education Minister Jeff Johnson said they hoped to have 54 new portable classrooms in place for Sept. 3, but due to delays in manufacturing and delivery not all of the portables will be ready for the first day of school.
Johnson was in High River last week to assess the progress being made for temporary classrooms at Senator Riley School and Notre Dame Collegiate. The minister said they have done everything they can to expedite the process and hopes the portables will only be delayed a week or two.
“We looked at every possible option,” said Johnson. “The process is slow and what is the delay is the manufacturer cannot deliver the portables on time.”
Due to the delay Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools (CRCS) has had to make alternate arrangements to house their High River students until the portables are in place.
Holy Spirit Academy and Notre Dame Collegiate (NDC) were severely damaged in the June flood. Holy Spirit Academy will not be re-opened until next fall. As a result, those students were going to be housed on 26 portables at NDC. Meanwhile, NDC students were going to be sharing space at Foothills School Division’s Senator Riley School.
NDC is expected to be repaired by January 2014 and at that time the high school students will return to the school and the Holy Spirit Academy students will continue to use the portables.
CRCS superintendent Scott Morrison said the school division has leased the Memorial Centre in High River for a month for the elementary school students and the high school students will still go to Senator Riley.
“I know is sounds chaotic, but I forgot how big the Memorial Centre is,” said Morrison. “I know it is not perfect, but we will do our best.”
Morrison said they have been communicating with parents regularly and he knows there is some frustration, worry and concern, but he wanted to reassure them the division and its staff is doing all they can to get school started.
As of now, Morrison said he expected the start of the school year in High River to be delayed four school days which will be made up throughout the year without having to extend the school calendar.
While the Province and CRCS make arrangements to secure classroom space and get the portables in place Morrison said no one is to blame for the delay.
“I know people are looking for someone to blame, but the government couldn’t have possibly done more,” he said. “Their boots are on the ground and they are engaged 100 per cent. We are working hard and they have been good support.”
As for the portables, Johnson said they are in constant contact with the manufacturer to ensure they get to High River as soon as possible.
According to Johnson, four portables are in place at Senator Riley, six more are en route to High River with another 20 currently in production.
In the meantime, he commended the two school divisions for working together to find a temporary solution. The Foothills School Division vacated the west wing of Senator Riley which will be used by the NDC students.
“The collaboration and work done between the two school divisions, municipalities and Alberta Education is unparalleled,” said Johnson. “I am so proud of the work they have done.”
Johnson said the delays they are experiencing with the modulars are a matter of weeks not months and it is vital they keep the students in High River.
“We made an effort to get the portables there as fast as we could,” he said. “The kids need to stay together and stay in their community.”