The design of the desperately needed expansion of the Bow Valley High School (BVHS) is in the final stages of being finalized and construction is anticipated to begin next spring.

Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees chair Fiona Gilbert says an update has been provided to the school's community.

"We saw some pictures of the design," says Chair Gilbert. "It's a fabulous addition, and it gives some amazing opportunities for our students."

In the meantime, though, it's one of the local RVS schools experiencing an acute shortage of space. As of Sept. 24, it was at 109.5 per cent utilization. That leaves school officials sorting out how to accommodate both its current student population and the rapid growth anticipated before the expansion is completed.

Once shovels are in the ground, construction is anticipated to be done in phases and take 18 to 24 months to complete.

"Once we have some specifics on the timeline, what it's going to look like at the school building, then those are some things that we will need to contemplate as to how do we manage the growth while the construction is happening."

Bow Valley High's enrolment could increase by 100 to 150 students annually before the expansion is completed.

"Between now and two years from now, that's another 300 kids, and so, yes, absolutely there are going to be some operational pieces that we'll need to figure out as to how do we manage to be able to provide the opportunities for the kids during the construction until we get to that place."

Temporary modular classrooms are one possible solution, but that heavily depends on how many are awarded by Alberta Education next spring.

RVS didn't receive anywhere near the number of modulars they requested last year and in the end, none came to Cochrane. The year previous, RVS wasn't awarded any.

"We're working with MLA (Peter) Guthrie here in the community to see if there's a way to get additional modulars and so we'll continue that conversation with him and with the Education minister to see how we can best advocate for these additional spaces for students."

As of Sept. 24, a total of 254 more students had registered in RVS schools in Cochrane, amounting to a 4.5 per cent increase.

Of their nine schools, five or six of them are over 100 per cent capacity, with an overall average of 95 per cent occupancy.

September 30 is a key date for determining overall enrolment, particularly for funding from Alberta Education. School trustees will be receiving an enrolment update at its Oct. 5 meeting. 

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