GSACRD Capital Plan: Moving Forward Together - A Partnership In What's Possible

Moving Forward Together

Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools is updating its Capital Plan. This Plan will guide decision-making about school facilities and programming, considering current and future needs. We would like to engage our community to inform this Plan. No decisions have yet been made.

Background 

Greater St. Albert Catholic School Division is faced with aging infrastructure, underutilized schools, and the need for schools in new and future growth areas. In order to receive provincial funding to replace, modernize or build new schools, the province requires the division to demonstrate that they are using their existing facilities as efficiently as possible. This means the division needs to make some changes. GSACRD wants to engage with their school community to inform these decisions. The input from this engagement process will provide guidance to the Board of Trustees and Administration for current and future challenges.

Please watch this quick video to learn more about the engagement plans. 

Phase 1 engagement exploring change is now closed

Phase 1 engagement exploring change is now closed, thanks to all who participated, please watch for future opportunities in phase 2 coming this fall to provide your feedback.

Information to Consider: School Fact Sheets and Interactive Map

The School Fact Sheets will provide important information for each of our division schools including:

  • Current enrollment
  • Current capacity
  • Current utilization
  • School building age
  • And more...

Click here to view the School Fact Sheets.

Click here to view the School Fact Sheet in spreadsheet form for comparison.

You can also visit our interactive map which outlines school locations and facts by clicking here.

You can also learn more about school boundaries by clicking here.

*Please note that St. Gabriel Education Centre has not been included within these plans as per Chapter 11 of the School Capital Manual, Outreach space is considered an “exempt area” and is removed from the capacity calculation for a school. The ACU does not include outreach facilities. See sections 11.1 and 11.2.3 and 11.5 at this link.

Capital Planning Engagement Community Working Group

What is the purpose/mandate of the Working Group? 

The Working Group is being formed to support Division Administration and the Board of Trustees in identifying possible solutions to maximize school utilization. This group will consider input received through the Phase 1 engagement process and other relevant information provided by the Administration. They will be tasked with providing the Administration with guidance and recommendations to support the development of scenarios that will be brought back to the public for feedback during Phase 2 engagement.

How do I apply?

Click here for the online application form.

Where do I find more information?

Please click here to open a document with complete details regarding the Working Group. 

FAQ's Phase 1 Engagement

UTILIZATION RATES

  1. What are our current school utilization rates? Click here to learn more.
  2. What is the ideal utilization rate for a school? 70% or higher
  3. Why do we need to increase school utilization rates? There are various reasons including the cost to maintain, insure and operate schools. Funding is received based on students in a school, the fewer students, the less budget we receive. If our schools aren’t used effectively, we need to use money from our operating budget to run our buildings, when that money could go to student learning.
  4. How do we increase utilization rates? A few examples include, but are not limited to: removing surplus portables (modulars), reconfiguring grades or boundaries, combining schools or programs, etc. 
  5. Will class sizes go up if changes are made? Not necessarily. Teachers are allocated based on student numbers.
  6. Do utilization rates go up if we remove modulars? Removing surplus portables/modulars can improve overall utilization. Some schools have no portables or modular units to remove. Click here to view which schools have modulars and how many.
  7. Who pays for removing modulars, and what is the cost? School divisions can submit their proposals to remove surplus modulars through the Modular Classroom Program. When resources are limited, the Modular Classroom Program addresses enrolment growth pressures as well as health and safety concerns. The cost of removing portables/modulars depends on the location of these units, the number of units, and site infrastructure. The average cost of removing one unit can be approximately $20-25K. Learn more about which schools have modulars in the School Fact Sheets by clicking here.

 

SCHOOL CONDITIONS

  1. How many years of life are left in our schools? The average age of schools is 50 years.
  2. What schools may be affected? What schools need upgrading, modernization, or rebuilding? Our 10 Year Facilities Plan speaks to all schools in our Division and their condition.
  3. How do you determine when a new school is needed? For ex. In a new area vs. improving a current older building? A new school is typically awarded where the Division experiences enrolment pressures and there are no other alternatives (such as adding modulars to the existing school). A replacement school is typically needed when the cost of modernization exceeds 75% of the new build.
  4. What are the criteria to receive funding for a replacement school? Alberta Education School Capital Manual outlines requirements for a replacement or new school. 

DECISION MAKING

  1. When will changes happen and how will decisions be made? Please click here to review the timeline which outlines when decisions will be made and who is involved. 

Capital and Facilities Plans

Capital and Facilities Plans

Annually, the Division reviews the capital plan requirements and updates the Division’s three-year capital plan priorities. Priority categories include new school building requirements, school replacement needs, and those schools requiring modernizations. These plans are submitted to Alberta Education Capital Planning for consideration in the provincial capital planning process. Previous plans and additional historical information can be found here.

Examples of Capital Projects

What is a Capital Project?

Every school board in Alberta submits capital plan requests to the ministry of Education each year. The ministry of Education evaluates all requests submitted and prioritizes projects. This is then submitted to the Provincial Capital Planning group to consolidate requests from ALL provincial ministries. Projects are evaluated from a Provincial standing for criticality, readiness, alignment with government priorities, and available budget. Projects that are approved by Cabinet become part of that year’s Provincial Capital Plan. 

What are examples of a Capital Project?

A Capital Project is considered to be either:

  • A new school
  • Addition to an existing school
  • Modernization of an existing school
  • Replacement school
  • Solution – typically involves consolidating students from different schools where utilization rates are low and maintenance and operational costs are high.

The district needs to justify that their projects meet the following criteria used to evaluate requests, also known as project drivers: 

  • Building condition
  • Community renewal
  • Declining demographics
  • Enrolment pressures
  • Functionality and programming
  • Health and safety
  • Legal

GSACRD is considering a Solution project to address multiple schools with low utilization rates and the cost to maintain and operate these schools are high. This means several options could be considered, for example: 

  • Grade reconfiguration
  • Amalgamation
  • Boundary adjustments
  • Program changes/relocation
  • Partnerships (community/sector)
  • Others?

Questions?

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding our engagement process, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing the GSACRD Manager of Communication, Marketing, and Community Engagement: scunningham@gsacrd.ab.ca 

Tannis Topolnisky, with Topent Ltd.(Certified Public Participation Professional), has been retained to work collaboratively with the GSACRD leadership team to support and ensure successful engagement. 

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