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New three-year capital plan to seek funding to revitalize infrastructure

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A new short-term three-year capital plan approved by the Elk Island Catholic Schools (EICS) Board of Trustees at their March meeting represents a first step to obtain funding as the division seeks to plan for and gain feedback on the future in communities where we are blessed to serve students.

This approved three-year plan addresses current needs including close proximity to school for EICS students, efficient use of schools and their resources, and an advocacy tool to help address the division’s most pressing infrastructure needs. Primarily, this document is the vehicle that the division hopes will enable the necessary provincial funding to proceed with addressing current needs in Fort Saskatchewan and begin examining the future makeup of EICS in additional communities.

EICS administration submitted the three-year plan along with an updated 10-year facility plan in a joint document to Alberta Education at the end of March – in time for the province’s April 1 deadline to submit funding requests for Alberta’s 2025 fiscal year budget.

Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) was contracted by EICS to develop this plan as EPSB is very highly regarded for its accuracy in terms of projecting future student enrolment based on current enrolment and municipal development trends. In creating the EICS three-year capital plan and 10-year facility plan, EPSB reviewed the division’s long-term enrolment projections and facilities plan, as well as the economic diversity, growth potential, long-range regional plans, and future development projects of each municipality where EICS has a school.

“Elk Island Catholic was in need of a revitalized capital plan. In our project advocacy meetings with Alberta Education and Infrastructure, they informed us that our previous capital plans do not provide sufficient documentation nor solutions to warrant provincial funding,” said EICS Superintendent Paul Corrigan.

When proposing a funding request, school divisions must provide details regarding building conditions, functionality and programming, enrolment pressures, community renewal, and other details. School divisions are also expected to propose solutions to resolve their needs. Depending on what’s proposed, Alberta Education will categorize it into one of four funding programs: Pre-Planning, Planning, Design, or Construction. 

“With the amount of capital funding requests Alberta Education receives from school districts across the province each year, it has set a very high bar to obtain funding for pre-planning and planning – let alone construction dollars for school modernization or a new school,” Corrigan noted. “Our new capital plan is designed to clear this first bar so we can begin planning wider consultation with our communities. It clearly identifies our needs and provides consideration of what the potential solutions could be to best address the existing and future needs of our communities.”

Should the division’s funding request be included in the 2025 provincial budget, it would enable EICS to begin the first steps of community engagement via value scoping in Sherwood Park and Vegreville in the coming years, and begin the planning stage in Fort Saskatchewan to address ageing school infrastructure. 

“Input from our parents and staff are vital to our way forward in building a more sustainable future for Elk Island Catholic Schools in each of our communities,” said Board Chair Le-Ann Ewaskiw. “We know the future may hold difficult conversations with each of our communities, but these conversations are vital to the health of our division and our ability to provide the level of quality Catholic Education that we are so well known for.”

The EICS capital plan is requesting funding to support three needs, as listed in order of priority:

  1. A Planning and Design funding request to combine Our Lady of the Angels and St. John XXIII Catholic schools by building a new school on an existing school site or new site in Fort Saskatchewan. Learn about the potential options.
  2. Begin value scoping in Sherwood Park once provincial funding is received and no earlier than 2025. The purpose would be to obtain community feedback and consider options that may include closing two schools with a long-term planning request to build a new school in Bremner or Cambrian.
  3. Begin value scoping in Vegreville after provincial funding is received and not before 2026 to obtain community feedback and consider options that could include consolidating St. Martin’s and St. Mary’s Catholic schools or reconfiguring their grades.

Outside of initial value scoping sessions held in Fort Saskatchewan earlier this year, and the analysis conducted by EPSB, no additional action has been taken on these three priorities. Except for the new high school in Camrose that is planned to open in the fall of 2025, any potential grade reconfiguration, modernization, or new school in any EICS community is pending provincial funding and has no formal timeline.

10-Year Facility Plan

In addition to the three-year capital plan, Trustees also reviewed a long-term 10-year plan. Once formalized, this plan would follow completion of the first three priorities identified above and could include reconfiguration, modernization, and a new school in rural Strathcona County, Bremner, and Cambrian.

The full three-year capital plan and 10-year facilities plan can be read here.