Red Deer Public Schools has submitted its Three Year Capital Plan for 2020-2023 that has been updated in order to address growing concerns surrounding Hunting Hills High School, namely the roof, mechanical and electrical issues.
An addition to the school is also being sought to create room to accommodate an additional 200 students. Hunting Hills is currently operating at 98 percent capacity (1478 students) and officials are expecting that to grow by another 173 students by 2023.
The total cost of a modernization of Hunting Hills High School would be around $7 million.
When the board was approached with the concerns surrounding the building they initially thought it could be handled it through Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) funds, but it was quickly discovered that the repairs would cost much more than they could afford.
“Some of us were around when that building opened and it’s hard to believe it’s almost 25 years old, but it is and there are some issues around the roof and it’s going to be more than we can afford with our IMR funds so that is the number one thing on our plan and I think that is the biggest change,” explains Board Chair Bev Manning.
“We assess our building on a regular basis and make sure we have a that information at our finger tips so when it comes time to submit the capital plan we not only have current data but historical data on what’s gone on.”
The updated capital plan also calls for a new grade 6-8 middle school in northeast Red Deer, and modernizations to Gateway Christian School, Fairview Elementary School and Glendale School. It also requests a new grade 9-12 high school on the north end of Red Deer.
The district says many its middle schools in Red Deer are currently operating at or over capacity, and that a new middle school would help relieve the pressure.
The Board also predicts that over the next 5-10 years its two high schools could experience the same problems with capacity, which is why a new high school for the north end was also included in the plan’s wish list.
Although the Board recognizes the urgency for these projects, they aren’t optimistic that they will get what they are asking for.
“We haven’t been very optimistic that we are going to see much money at any point in the near future,” explains Manning. “Things are pretty tight in the province and we understand that, which is why we make a consistent effort to keep our buildings as in good repair as we possibly can but sometimes it’s out of our control. Even if it gets approved it could be another three years before we see any of these changes.”
Manning says the board recognizes that these are all urgent projects and the need for them will increase significantly as the community grows over the next few years.
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