Premier announces $28 million for Foothills Composite modernization
Education: Upgrades range from mechanical to performing arts area
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 02:23 pm
An Okotoks high school, which offers classes ranging from cosmetology to advanced math, will receive a multi-million-dollar makeover.
Premier Alison Redford announced on Feb. 5 Foothills Composite High School will undergo a $28-million in modernization. The project is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2016.
Redford told Foothills Composite students the modernization is to meet theirs and the community's needs for years to come.
“It matters for your capacity to be able to learn, to grow and for this school to be able to support you,” Redford said at the school. “We know that building schools is a long-term commitment, it is investing in our future.”
The modernization will include mechanical, electrical, and exterior upgrades. It may also include upgrades to facilities used by the school's fine arts and technology programs.
Drew Chipman, Foothills School Division assistant superintendent-corporate services, said upgrades to mechanical and electrical systems to the school are not glamourous, but they are necessary.
“There is a lot of work to be done from roofs, windows, mechanical to electrical,” he said. “We will also be looking at changing some of the program areas to different parts of the school.”
The modernization, which has been the division's top priority for almost five years, is much welcomed, said Foothills Composite principal Vince Hunter.
“I could take you to a classroom and show you how they have rigged up a little trough from the roof because whenever it rains or snows and starts to melt, it comes right through the roof — the trough runs to the sink,” Hunter said. “We have some necessary needs that have to be fixed for the well-being of kids and the building itself to sustain it.
“Hopefully, if we have some monies after that, we can start looking at a main stage, reconfiguring shops or at gymnasiums.”
It couldn't come at a better time as Foothills Composite received extensive damage from the storm which flooded southern Alberta in June 2013.
Foothills superintendent of schools Del Litke said the Comp may have faced the most damage among the division's schools last June when the roof leaked during the heavy rains that came with the storm.
Litke sees the modernization as an opportunity.
“The reality is this school has served the community well for 30 years,” Litke said. “One of the first questions we have to ask ourselves is what are kids going to need 30 years from now… We don't have all the answers, we have to see what our community needs, but there is a tremendous opportunity for Okotoks.”
Chipman said the division will work with staff and the school community to limit the impact the modernization will have on the more than 1,000 students.
“We will come up with a plan that best meets the needs for the students,” Chipman said. “We will be doing the project in stages in order to best accommodate the students. We will work through that with the architect, design team and the school to make sure we continue to provide great programming for kids while the same time getting the modernization as soon as we can.”
Chipman said he does not know how the funds will be spent, but does expect some to go the performing arts area. The Alberta High School of Fine Arts is a major component of the school.
A proposed performing arts centre has also been on the Town of Okotoks' wish list for several years.
Chipman said the division would be willing to share the performing arts area with the community.
Mayor Bill Robertson said he would also be agreeable to such an agreement, but said it is premature to talk about those possibilities.
Redford also announced eight modular classrooms have been allocated to schools in Okotoks.
Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson, who joined Redford at Foothills Composite, said he is aware of the pressure for new schools in Okotoks in the next few years.
“Okotoks is a unique situation because they don't have the land yet for a school,” Johnson said. “We will work with Okotoks and the other communities who might have the same pressures as they put the plans for municipal reserve lands (for schools).”