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Superintendent's Notebook - May 2017

Graduation season is upon us. Although the school year isn’t finished until the end of June, most high schools hold commencement ceremonies in late May or early June. This way Grade 12 students can get the excitement out of their systems in time to focus on their final exams without distraction. It’s an exciting time, as students prepare to embark on the next stage of life, whether that’s pursuing a post-secondary education, entering the workforce, taking some time to travel or something else entirely.

It’s a time of change. And high school itself is changing. It’s been changing for a long time, in fact. I know the way our schools and students approach learning today is very different than when I was in high school. New technologies and increasing diversity in the classroom mean high school is different today than even just five or 10 years ago.

If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard about Edmonton Public Schools’ acute need for high schools, especially in south Edmonton. This doesn’t come as a surprise to us. We have a lot of students in elementary and junior high.

Thanks to the funding provided by the province, we’ve been fortunate to open a number of new and desperately needed schools for those young students, including 11 new schools for the 2017-2018 school year.

But those children will soon be young adults, so we’ll need more high school spaces. Each year, the District puts together a Capital Plan that we submit to the province, which includes our requests for infrastructure funding. The latest Capital Plan that the Board of Trustees approved requests funds for a new high school as our top priority, with funding for a second high school also near the top of the list.

These are big asks. A high school costs about $90 million and takes about four years to build.

Because we don’t have funds now, we are looking at lots of different options to make sure every high school student gets the high-quality education they deserve. 

Many students already take courses online, attend summer school or night school, and take courses offered at other schools. Could we offer more options like these to more students? Possibly. No decisions have been made and no decisions will be made until we talk to you. We want to know what’s important to our students, families and school communities.

Education is always evolving to meet the changing needs of students, their families and the communities they live in. I look forward to talking to you about this ongoing evolution. And, no matter what the high school experience might look like in a few years time, I can assure you that everyone at Edmonton Public Schools is committed to making sure students receive a high-quality education that sets them up for success throughout their life.