By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
The province has announced design funding for a new high school in Raymond.
In an announcement earlier this month, Raymond is home to one of 15 priority school projects that will receive a total of $251 million over three years in funding. Currently, the Raymond school project is slated for design funding only.
“We are very excited that our vision for our Raymond Schools is moving forward. Alleviating congestion, both inside and outside the buildings, has been a top priority for our division. We are grateful the government recognizes the unique needs we have in Raymond, and we look forward to working closely in partnership with the Town of Raymond on this project,” said Darren Mazutinec, superintendent of Westwind School Division, in a release.
The project aims to alleviate enrollment pressure across all three Raymond Schools. When Raymond High School last underwent modernization in 2008, there were 780 students across all three schools. Today, there are 1,100 students, and the division has 22 modulars in place to help alleviate classroom pressure. In additional, all three schools have outgrown shared areas such as gyms, hallways and libraries. WSD hopes that the new school and a redistribution of grades across the schools will better accommodate their students, and are working closely with the Town of Raymond with the project.
“This announcement is tremendously exciting for our community and validates the decisions successive Councils have made since 2006 to invest in amenities that attract young families,” said Kurtis Pratt, CAO for the town. “By locating the new school within Victoria Sports Park, our students will benefit from the Towns significant investment in recreational infrastructure and will create an environment that is second to none in the province. We are extremely grateful to the province for their investment and would like to thank MLA Grant Hunter for his advocacy on our behalf.”
Since 2006, the town has grown by 12.1 per cent over the past five years, and 31.2 per cent since 2006, or an increase of 999 people. Population forecasts show the town growing steadily as well.
All three of the town’s schools – the elementary, junior high and high school, are located on the same block next to each other. Safety concerns have also been raised in regards to traffic volumes.
Raymond Mayor Jim Depew said it was “fantastic” that the town was on the province’s radar for a new school.
“The town is in dire need of a new school. The Elementary, Jr High, and High school all sit on the same street and all of the schools are overcrowded beyond capacity. Portable classrooms have been added,” said Depew. “Raymond is a thriving growing community! Young families want to move here to raise their families for the small town factor, the lifestyle that this town offers. Placing the new school a couple of blocks away will lessen the congestion and offer safety to our community.”
The design phase of the project that was approved could take between six to 12 months to complete, and specific details on the project scope and timeline are not known. Currently, the Alberta government have yet to announce construction funding for a new school in Raymond.