STAR Catholic stumped about provincial silence

STAR Catholic Schools is wondering if the completion date for a new school is reliable...

St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools board chair John Tomkinson

St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools board chair John Tomkinson

St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools is wondering if the completion date for a new school is reliable. It seems their quest to get an answer is itself posing questions.

The STAR Catholic school division issued a press release Nov. 10, voicing their frustrations over the new Father Leduc School, currently under construction in Southfork. After Education Minister David Eggen revealed in September that over 100 school construction projects are delayed, STAR Catholic wanted to know if the new November, 2016 completion date for Ft. Leduc is reliable. The division is not only having trouble getting a response, they’re having trouble getting anyone to answer the phone in Edmonton.

“To this point our Board has faced communication challenges with the Government of Alberta in its quest to find specifics to a number of key questions that remain unanswered,” stated the STAR Catholic press release.

“‘I am saddened by the lack of communication,” said John Tomkinson, Board Chair. ‘In light of our Board’s ongoing commitment to transparency, we will attempt to make every effort to gather as much information as possible from Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Education so that we can make the best decisions going forward.”

Contacted by the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer Nov. 13, Tomkinson said Ft. Leduc remains about two to three months behind schedule. The foundation is done and the frame is going up. “I’m very disappointed by the lack of communication,” said Tomkinson by phone Nov. 13.

He noted Alberta Infrastructure is the school’s project manager, so the school division is requesting specific project timeline benchmarks it needs to plan the school’s opening.

Tomkinson pointed out Ft. Leduc was supposed to open in summertime; now it’s opening in November which means students and staff may be moving into the school during an Alberta winter. He noted that just because the school is completed in November doesn’t mean students and staff can move in immediately.

Also, Tomkinson said STAR Catholic includes stakeholders in the community into its planning process for Ft. Leduc. The board chair said the division just wants to ensure the completion date is reliable so the community can set plans in motion for the November, 2016 date. “We’re going to continue the engagement with the community,” said Tomkinson.

The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer contacted Alberta Infrastructure by phone Nov. 13 but did not receive a response by deadline Nov. 16.