By Kassidy Christensen
As recovery and rebuilding efforts gain impressive speed within the Town of High River, some of the most important community infrastructures are getting assessments on the state and extent of damage they have sustained.
Four out of the six schools in High River will be ready to open come Sept. 1 for students. Holy Spirit Academy and Notre Dame Collegiate will not be ready in time for the beginning of the 2013 school year.
Minister of education Jeff Johnson commends all the hard work crews have put in toward ensuring the schools will be ready in time for Sept.
“They (recovery crews and the school boards) have really taken on a leadership role. The progress they have made in the last week since being able to get into the schools is remarkable,” said Johnson.
All but one school in High River, Highwood High School, have sustained some form of damage due to the flood, but only the two catholic schools will not be reopened.
Foothills School Division’s board of trustee’s chairperson Diana Froc commented with an optimistic viewpoint on the state of each school in the area.
“Joe Clark has damage in the gym, which will need some replacement or repair. Senator Riley has very little damage, and Highwood is in good shape. Then Spitzee School has their heritage wing that has been compromised,” said Froc.
“We know we won’t be in the basement for Sept. (of Spitzee School), but we are hoping to be in the second and third floor come Sept. and the additional piece that has been added on over the years to the heritage wing will be in full swing for Sept. We’re for sure ready for the kids,” said Froc.
For the classrooms of schools in town that have been compromised, 75 high-performance modular classrooms have been order in advance to accommodate students and make up for the space lost due to the flood.
“This is a significant investment and we want to make sure those resources are available come Sept. so that they can be placed where needed,” said Johnson.
“The one thing is we’re not sure of is if all the modular classrooms are going to be needed because enrolment is going to shift,” said Johnson.
Since people have been displaced, it’s possible schools will not see the same enrolments number compared to previous years.
“We’re going to work with the school boards over the summer to make sure that we’re protecting that and that we have the resources available,” said Johnson.
The modular classrooms estimate at roughly $300,000 each, which includes the cost of the module itself and any installation work that will be needed in order to prep the sites where the temporary classrooms will be placed.
“Usually the cost of the modules range from about $150,000 to $200,000 and then the set up cost is that much more,” said Johnson.
“They will be single sourced, which will allow us to be able to act quicker, we are able to cut through the red tape, we know there are providers out there that do a good job, we’ve used them in the past so we will be single sourcing these things so we can get them in on time,” said Johnson.
Access has not yet been gained to Holy Spirit Academy since it is still surrounded by stagnant water. Assessments of the damage will be reported once crews can safely enter the building.
Demolition of Holy Spirit is not an avenue explored by recovery crews at this time since they are unsure of the state of the building, said Johnson.
Notre Dame Collegiate had flooding throughout the school and will need drywall replacement and the damage sustained due to moisture, for example to library books, will make it so that Notre Dame Collegiate will not be ready in time for Sept. 1.
Options are being explored by the province as to where the students will attend of these schools come Sept., and details will be released in the near future, said Johnson.
The main message Johnson hoped to convey to both parents and students is to simply enjoy the summer as much as possible.
“Have a good time like you do every summer, because you’ve got really good people with the school boards that are doing a lot of good work, they’re working through the summer and in some cases some are working through the night,” said Johnson.
“I can assure parents that there are going to be places to go come Sept. We might have some schools disrupted for the next year but that’s all I can foresee it being.”