On Thursday, February 13, George Rogers, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, announced that there will be a new Catholic K-9 school in Leduc.
The new school will be the 4th school in Leduc for St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division and will be located on the southwest side of the City in the community of Southfork. Planning for the school is expected to begin immediately as the goal is for the school to be open for the 2016/2017 school year.
As Rogers continues with his announcement he explains that the new school will be able to better accommodate the space needs of the Leduc students both now and into the future. “It means that as many as 600 students will be able to attend school nearer to their homes rather than be bused across town,” says Rogers. “Our students deserve to attend classes in their own neighbourhoods and in schools tailored to meet their educational program and needs.”
Rogers ensures students, teachers and parents that the new school is more than just bricks and mortar. “It represents a connection through that sense of community, it fulfills a need we have today and far into the future to ensure that our students excel and communities continue to flourish”. Rogers was also proud to proclaim that the new school will also be a great compliment to the new K-9 school in West Haven for the Black Gold Regional School Division. “Our communities deserve to have after school access to flexible, well designed space”.
The new school will be wired for the latest in technology, with advanced systems and features such as large windows that will provide natural lighting. There will also be ventilation systems that will improve air quality and circulation. “You’re new school will provide a healthy learning and working environment for the students and their staff and those who visit,” says Rogers.
STAR Catholic has been lobbying for a new school for over 5 years now. There is currently a critical space shortage in the Leduc Schools; in fact they have been at or over capacity for several years now. The new school will make a significant impact in addressing that critical space shortage.
Rogers told that crowd that the last new school built in Leduc was over 25 years ago which was Christ the King Junior/Senior High School.
Prior to the Alberta Government making a final decision on the new school, the Honorable Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education, came to Leduc and toured all of the STAR Catholic schools in the city. Rogers says it was very obvious to him how great the need was, however, Leduc is competing with other parts of the province where there is also a tremendous amount of growth. “The fact that we were able to get that message across of how great that need was when the minister came to Leduc, I am just thrilled,” proclaims Rogers ecstatically.
Sandra Bannard, Board Chair with STAR Catholic, addressed the crowd of excited students and teachers by saying, “It’s an understatement today to say that here at STAR Catholic we are overjoyed by the announcement.”
After hearing the announcement almost a year ago for a new school in Leduc for the Black Gold Regional School Division, the STAR Catholic board was deeply disappointed as they had been advocating for a new Catholic High school. In December 2013 the board revisited their capital plan and changed their number one priority from a Catholic High School to a K-9 school to address the young demographic that will soon be entering the school system. Bannard explains, “The bottom line is we needed student space and this seemed to be the way that would get us to that goal the quickest.”
“With this school being announced I think it is going to be imperative for the board to go back to the capital plan and now look at our configuration of how our schools are going to operate and perhaps revisit what we will be requesting as our new number one,” says Bannard.
Bannard continues to say that the board definitely has some work to do. “You know you put forward capital plans not always knowing what you are going to get so now that we know what we’ve got now we will proceed from this point to work with it.”
The STAR Catholic School Division represents 10 schools and more than 3200 students across the division, including the communities in Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Lacombe, Leduc, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.