Each year, school divisions across the province are required to submit a Three-Year Capital Plan to Alberta Education. All school divisions are also required to have a 10-Year Capital Plan on file that is approved by the School Board.
NLPS 2020-2023 Capital Plan (approved March 26, 2019)
Some things should be noted when reading the document, including the following:
- The Capital Plans are a list of capital priorities that the Board would like the Provincial Government to fund. They are a “wish list” submitted to the Government for consideration in its infrastructure planning process. The Government decides which projects are approved for funding and when they will go ahead.
- The School Division does not receive annual funding that it can use to construct new schools or do major renovations to an existing school. The School Board cannot requisition funds from taxpayers to pay for new schools or major renovations. If projects do not receive approval from the Provincial Government, the School Division cannot move forward with construction.
- While the plans are referred to as a Three-Year and 10-Year Capital Plan respectively, that does not mean that all, or any, of the projects will actually be approved or completed within that timeframe. Sometimes it takes many years for a project to be approved, even if it is ranked at the top of the School Division’s Capital Plan.
- While the plan includes scheduled start dates, end dates, and costs, those are estimates and suggestions only. The dates are determined based on how quickly the Division wants to move forward with the project and how quickly construction could start if the project was approved immediately. The dates usually also reflect any work that has already been done to move the project forward, such as negotiating a location with a municipality. The suggested dates and costs are used to help the Provincial Government assess the project and determine whether or not to approve it. If, and when, the Government approves a project, it will determine the actual timelines and budget for that project.
- The School Division is required to rank all of the projects, but that does not mean that the projects will proceed in that order. For instance, a modernization project, which is a renovation of an existing facility, may move forward before the construction of a new school. This could be due to a variety of factors, including cost. As well, it is possible for priorities to shift, particularly if there are emergent issues that increase or decrease the urgency of a particular project.
If you have any questions about the Northern Lights Public Schools Three-Year and 10-Year Capital Plans, please feel free to contact our Division Office in Bonnyville.
Summary of Facilities and Capital Plans 2018-2019
2018-2019 once again presented a challenging year for facilities and capital planning. There was plenty of work, yet not a lot of movement on capital priorities. Given the large monetary transfer from the instructional enveloped to Facilities, coupled with a new director at the helm. attention was given to finding efficiencies and savings, if possible. This was in addition to finding (and modifying) space for decanting students from Bonnyville Centralized High School (BCHS) and still continuing work on sports fields in Lac La Biche.
The BCHS project demanded a lot of attention in order to keep the project schedule on target. Unfortunately, costing of the project and the provincial election stalled the progress. As a result, shovels did not break ground in April as planned. However, NLPS had already committed to entering a lease for decanting space, and programming was planned for the new site. Therefore, financial and human resources were deployed to make the new site ready for students for the fall semester, making it a costly decision for more than financial reasons alone.
On a positive front, NLPS continued to work with Lac La Biche County on sports field development, which required some form of financial commitment. This was a long anticipated project as the J.A. Williams High School relocated in the fall of 2014 to its replacement site with no developed outdoor field space. This had serious impacts on planning for school use, not to mention he impact to students. Construction on the sports fields adjacent to the school began in the summer of 2019, with completion planned for the fall.
With respect to the three-year capital plan, NLPS held steady with the priorities listed from the prior year and continues to advocate for a replacement school for the NLPS number one priority, Vera M. Welsh Elementary School. The only exception was that Iron River School modernization was removed as a priority, as work was completed in house. Continued efforts to develop an application for a school on the Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement continued, with the Metis Settlement allocating space for a replacement for Caslan School, to be located on the Settlement.
On an operational level, the janitorial aspect of the operations were reviewed. As a result, a system-wide tender was issued for janitorial services for NLPS schools that contract custodial services. This results in a change to the providers at most schools. A significant turnover does not come without its trials. The transition tool place during the summer months, but will have a positive effect on the bottom line. Additionally, schools are converting to green cleaning products, thereby saving the environment and operational dollars.
As Infrastructure Maintenance Renewal (IMR) plans in the 2017-2018 year were very aggressive, this year was a slower year in completing some of those larger projects. Preparing the BCHS decanting space had a major impact on completing summer IMR work. As a result, IMR spending in the year was significantly less. Given the list of IMR projects for the 2019-2020 year, the funds carried over will be beneficial in completing some of the more urgent projects.