"The recent recovery in the local economy is good news, but is creating challenges in securing skilled trades in four vital areas necessary for completion of the new Whispering Ridge Community School (WRCS)," says David Michalko, Facilities Director at Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWSD).
Mr. Michalko is responsible for managing all aspects of the project on behalf of the school division.
Included in the list of trades shortages are electrical, carpentry and mechanical, as well as civil engineering.
"The early stages of the project were hampered by weather conditions, further compounding construction delays caused by trades shortages," adds Mr. Michalko. "However, the two-month delay is minor when the combined impact of the economic and weather factors are taken into account."
Superintendent Sheldon Rowe says PWSD's Board and Administration are cautious about rushing a school construction project, stating that student safety is paramount. "We see no value in moving WRCS students into a construction zone if delaying the opening by two months means the school is fully operational when they arrive."
WRCS Principal Shawn O'Shea echoes similar concerns, noting that while the 440 WRCS students enroled at Harry Balfour School does make for cramped quarters, the quality of education remains unaffected.
"Harry Balfour School is a close-knit community that has always put students first. WRCS, when it opens, will reflect the same ideals," adds Mr. O'Shea. "While the delay is disappointing, our focus remains on making the school year as successful and rewarding as possible for our students, parents, and the communities we serve."
A revised projected opening date of April 9, 2018 has been set to facilitate a smooth transition following spring break. In September 2017, students and staff were divided by classes, based on the attendance boundaries for each school. County students residing east of 100 Street were assigned to Harry Balfour School, while those west of city center were assigned to WRCS.
Mr. O'Shea also expressed appreciation for the support he and his staff have received from families and the community during this transitional year, adding that those with questions or concerns may contact him at the school office.
Photo Caption: The recent recovery in the local economy, combined with weather conditions, have delayed completion of the new Whispering Ridge Community School by two months.