Palliser, Town of Coaldale see the possibilities

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Principal Wayne Funk shows representatives from Palliser Regional Schools and the Town of Coaldale around George Freeman School in Strathmore, a school for elementary and middle school students which is attached to a recreation centre.

STRATHMORE – It was a facility tour, but also an exploration of the possibilities which might arise from a growing partnership between Palliser Regional Schools and the Town of Coaldale.

Trustees and senior leadership from Palliser recently took part in a tour – hosted by their counterparts from the Town of Coaldale – of a combination school-recreation centre. George Freeman School, which educates both elementary and middle school students, opened its doors in September, while finishing touches are still being made to the attached leisure centre.

Following several public consultation meetings and looking at all possible options, Palliser submitted a proposal to the province for a new school to replace the existing high school in Coaldale. That, along with grade reconfiguration at two other Palliser schools would meet Coaldale's future educational needs.

A grade reconfiguration would help ease an existing space crunch at Jennie Emery Elementary School and future pressures at R.I. Baker Middle School. A replacement for Kate Andrews High School, an older school and underutilized, would provide a better learning environment for students.

Municipalities designate property for future schools. The Town of Coaldale has set aside land for a new school on recently annexed property near the Birds of Prey Centre. They have proposed building the school adjacent to and in conjunction with a new recreation centre.

While the province has looked at such partnerships favourably in the past, Palliser won’t know the fate of its submission until the government announces in the spring which capital projects receive funding. That could mean approval for a new school, a modernization of the high school instead, or it could turn down the proposal at this time.

Coaldale Town Council and the Palliser Board of Trustees are also working on other potential partnerships to benefit the students of today as well as the future.