Recently at Edmonton Public Schools, we revised our Vision, Mission and Priorities to include a set of Cornerstone Values. These Values anchor us – they ask us to tap into our strengths and talents, and demonstrate on a daily basis, what Equity, Integrity, Accountability and Collaboration look and feel like. We believe it’s vital that we live these Values and ensure they become part of our DNA as an organization.
They’re already playing an important role in guiding our Replacement School Project. This is an exciting initiative that comes from the Province’s announcement – made back in January – that we would be receiving a replacement school in a mature neighbourhood.
We have a very special opportunity to upgrade an existing school or build a new state-of-the-art school in an older area of the city. This project allows us to combine an existing junior high and two elementary schools into a new or modernized K-9 school. For us, this is about ensuring every student has access to a fantastic teacher in a great learning space – a goal directly tied to Equity. From the very beginning, we also looked at this project through the lens of community development. We want to hear the hopes and dreams of community residents and partner organizations and build something that will make a difference in the lives of families for decades to come.
The areas being considered for this project are Greater Highlands, Greater Lawton and Greater Westmount. To help choose which neighbourhoods would be considered for the new replacement school, we looked at: enrolment; number of students living in the area; how close area schools are to one another; age of schools; general condition of the buildings; costs to upgrade; and school ground size and access. The new replacement school will offer appropriate space, technology and accessibility features for all K-9 students in the area.
As the schools in these neighbourhoods and many others continue to age, our maintenance bill will be in excess of $1 billion by 2025. With rising repair costs and our focus on investing in community development, we want to make sure we do this right. I’m committed to engaging our communities in a consultation process built on transparency and conversations where your voice is heard. We’ve completed our first round of consultations, which helped us understand what your ideas, thoughts and concerns are for the replacement school and the entire community. I want to thank those of you who came out to those sessions. Your feedback is critical to shaping the decision and vision for the community.
If you weren’t able to attend the meeting in your community, you can still tell us what you think by filling out our online survey on epsb.ca. We’d like to know what features you think would be important to have in a new school and what you’d like to see done with old buildings after the replacement school is opened. The first survey will be available until May 9 and a second, updated survey will be posted afterward. A second round of meetings will be held May 20 (Highlands School); May 21 (Lawton School) and May 22 (Westmount School). All comments and questions from our public meetings will be posted on our website. A final meeting will be held on June 18, where we’ll share which community will be recommended to the Board for consideration.
We hope these communities will be excited about the prospect of having a replacement school in their neighbourhood that not only provides the very best learning spaces for students, but also serves as a community hub offering resources, supports and services that benefit all residents. Schools are so often the heart and soul of a community; by working together, we look forward to creating a future where a new or modernized school embodies that spirit.