With no new schools in the wind, and fewer modular classrooms provided than requested last year, Rocky View Schools (RVS) is launching a Cochrane community consultation that could result in a redistribution of students.
RVS superintendent Greg Luterbach says a thorough consultation involving meetings and web-based discussions is about to be undertaken before recommendations are brought forward to the school board on Apr. 23.
RVS projects the utilization rate of most Cochrane schools will be 100 per cent in the next two years. RancheView School has already surpassed capacity, and many others are in the high 90s,
The school division has requested three more modulars for RancheView. They won't know until next spring if all or any of them will be provided.
If all three proceed, that property will max out.
"After that, we've run out of room on that site, so we need to look at it and have a conversation with the community around where all of our students are going in Cochrane," says Luterbach.
"Can we balance them better? Do we look at grade levels? Do we look at, if you live in this neighbourhood, do you attend this school or that one? The board wants to hear from the public before making any decisions on that."
RancheView currently accommodates K-8 students from Sunset Ridge, Heartlands and Heritage Hills.
Ten other modulars have been requested for Cochrane. Exactly where they would be placed will be determined in part by the community consultation.
If approved, finding a home for them is starting to prove challenging.
"We are limited in our ability to place them anywhere. Even if we got them from the government or even if we had money to go buy them ourselves, there's nowhere to put them."
Gilbert says pushing for new schools remains a high priority for the division.
"It's definitely on our advocacy list for the government to meet the needs of our growing division. With modulars, you can only do so much."
But she's uncertain if any new school projects will be announced in the Alberta government's spring budget.
"We are expecting a new funding framework to be put in place for the next budget year, so we're not quite sure what that looks like," says Gilbert. "There are a few expected changes, so we're looking for clarity from the government on how they will continue to support the capital needs of our division."
No new RVS schools have been approved for Cochrane since the Jim Prentice PC administration Oked the Fireside School. Yet, even if one was announced today it would be a minimum of three years before the doors open.
At the same time, the division continues to search for ways to reduce its budget by $10 million to meet the funding reduction in the Alberta government's October budget.
Gilbert says no final decisions have been made on where to make the cuts. The provincial government expects the adjustments to be made by the end of the month.