Grande Prairie, AB – Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) has been awarded design funding for the replacement Harry Balfour School. The funding was included among 25 new school projects announced on Friday by Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange.
Replacing the existing Harry Balfour School has been the PWPSD Board's top capital plan priority for several years.
Earlier this year, the County of Grande Prairie set aside land at the Five Mile Hall site, with installation of municipal services and road access pending a new school announcement.
PWPSD Board Chair Kari Scheers says that moving Harry Balfour students to the county will achieve another important goal.
"By eliminating the additional time required to transport rural students through the busy central core of the city, we will simultaneously reduce early morning pick-ups and late drop-off times," adds Ms. Scheers.
The Harry Balfour School attendance area services families living in the County of Grande Prairie, with the boundary lines defined as the area east of 100 Street, extending north to Township Road 722 and south to the Wapiti River.
The new school is expected to reflect the footprint of Whispering Ridge Community School that opened in 2018 to accommodate approximately half of Harry Balfour's rapidly growing enrolment. In her announcement, Minister LaGrange also said parents no longer have to fundraise for playground equipment, as it is included in funding for new schools.
"We will work to ensure that the new school will be designed and built to meet the needs of the students, staff, and the entire school community. We see it as an investment in the future of Alberta," adds Ms. Scheers.
"On behalf of the students, staff, parents, and the entire Harry Balfour School community, we would like to thank the Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education and the Honourable Prasad Panda, Minister of Infrastructure for moving this project to the forefront," says Ward 7 Trustee Stefanie Clarke who represents the school's attendance area.
A further announcement on construction funding and planning, and the projected start date will be shared as information becomes available.
Photo: Design funding for a replacement Harry Balfour School was included in the province's announcement of 25 new school projects on November 1, 2019.