The new Fr. Michael McCaffery Catholic High School is under construction and set to open in Edmonton in September. Funding has been secured for three more schools as well as new schools in Calgary. Photo from ECSD

Funds secured for new schools as demand grows in Edmonton, Calgary

  • March 17, 2024

New schools are on their way to address growing enrolment and demand in Catholic schools in Alberta’s two largest cities.

Edmonton Catholic School Division (ECSD) and the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) are moving forward with building projects with funding set aside in the Government of Alberta’s 2024 budget.

The ECSD has received total construction funding to build three new kindergarten to Grade 9 schools in Alberta’s capital city and to replace the K-9 school in the Rundle Heights neighbourhood. The division also has money to finalize the proposed design of two more schools. 

As for the CCSD, it can now erect a new high school in Calgary’s southeast Rangeview neighbourhood and a K-9 school in nearby Chestermere. This district has design funding for a K-6 and a high school in Calgary.

The provincial government will collaborate with the school boards to establish completion dates. 

ECSD board chair Sandra Palazzo shared her delight for the families in the Crystallina Nera East, Cavanagh and Hays Ridge neighbourhoods who will benefit from the three brand-new schools.

“We can now see an end to the overcrowding in the schools surrounding those areas and the resulting need to temporarily redirect students away from their community schools,” said Palazzo. “The decision to fully fund construction is tremendously responsive to the school infrastructure crisis that exists in those areas. We strongly feel that families should be able to receive an excellent Catholic education for their children in the neighbourhood that they call home.”

Bryan Szumlas, the CCSD’s chief superintendent, said these capital projects “will help address the ongoing pressures of growing enrolment in our schools.”

“CCSD is experiencing rapid growth, facing budgetary challenges, increased student complexity and need, and many of our schools are operating above capacity,” said Szulmas. “We will continue to work with the provincial government to make our operating realities clear and to ensure that investment for school districts is sustainable, equitable and keeps pace with enrolment growth and inflation while also supporting student success.”

Joanna French, the CCSD’s senior communications specialist, told The Catholic Register that registration is expected to increase by 3.5 per cent in each of the next five years. As of 2023-24, approximately 63,000 students are served in 118 CCSD schools.

Communications manager Christine Meadows said dramatic student growth in Edmonton remains in the offing. The ECSD anticipates “enrolment will grow by 12-18 per cent over the next three years,” which is “equivalent to between 6,000 and 9,000 students.”

Currently, 48,500 students are served in 92 ECSD schools. This figure includes the 737 students who have joined the system since Oct. 1. Thirty-six of the schools — 39 per cent — are full or over capacity.

Meadows added that these strong figures “speak volumes about the growing demand for Catholic education in Edmonton. Families are seeking the welcoming, faith-based environment and the diverse opportunities that we provide. We are seeing growth in all grade levels.”

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