News / Calgary

CBE hopes for ongoing, predictable school builds moving forward

Current school builds are coming in under budget, according to Alberta Education, who says there’s no plan for the unused cash yet.

Dany Breton, superintendent of facilities for the CBE, said he hopes an element of predictability in school builds now that Alberta education is catching up to current needs.

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Dany Breton, superintendent of facilities for the CBE, said he hopes an element of predictability in school builds now that Alberta education is catching up to current needs.

Alberta’s education minister recently announced a surprising trend he’s seen across the province when it comes to new school builds—they’re coming in under budget.

Superintendent of facilities and environment for the Calgary Board of Education Dany Breton said this is a trend that corresponds with their experience, with projects coming in approximately 10 per cent below initial estimates.

But, according to education minister David Eggen there aren’t any current plans for the cash that was slated for the builds but isn’t being used.

“It is wonderful to see that many of our school bids across the province are coming in lower than we originally budgeted for. It certainly indicates it is a great time to be building schools in our province,” he said.

“As for where the money that we’re saving on lower construction costs may go, I can’t speculate on how it will be spent, but we will have more to share about new school projects in the 2017 budget when it’s released.”

Breton said the CBE is still working on delivering 27 new school builds, 10 of which opened in September and 10 of which are expected to open in the new year, and another seven with rolling opening dates in coming years.

But, Breton said the CBE will nonetheless see their school utilization rates back up at 90 per cent by 2021. He said the CBE’s preference would be to have “modest, but predictable ongoing new school announcements.”

“Certainly what we’ve just experienced was required due to many of years of there being very few new schools announced, so we had to catch up essentially to the massive growth we had seen within the city,” he said. “Now that we are in the process of catching up, ideally for us it would be again to see that element of predictability invested into the system.”

Breton said further to that, although new schools are important and exciting, existing CBE infrastructure requires some TLC.

“With 50 per cent of CBE schools being 50 years old or older, there is also a requirement for an intentional investment in infrastructure maintenance and renewal,” he said.

Breton said that kind of investment would ensure schools stay current and in better condition.

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