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 2017-2018
Coming off the heels of one of the busiest years in capital planning for NLPS in 2016-17, this year’s focus was primarily on the work that comes as a result of the announcement for modernizing Bonnyville Centralized High School while still attempting to resolve planning issues in Lac La Biche, all while undertaking the daunting task of replacing our long standing Director of Facilities.
The BCHS modernization would present some difficulties in design, given its block wall construction and limitation to the instructional area as determined from the value scoping exercise. To make this more difficult, negotiations with our intended community partner for the formation of a community theatre in the current BCHS gym as part of the modernization, stalled. This resulted in NLPS having to negotiate with the Town of Bonnyville to partner in ensuring this space was continued community space.
NLPS continued working with the County of Lac La Biche to work on developing sport fields for community and school use located within close proximity to J.A. Williams High School. This included finding options to divest of surplus land and subdivide part of our existing maintenance shop in order to help fund this development for the benefit of our students, who have now attended the high school for the past four years without any outdoor green space for their use. This was considered an enormous and long overdue imperative that signified a huge achievement for our Board.
The Board of Trustees and Administration continued to look for long-term solutions for the Lac La Biche community with respect to space for all three school systems. This included conversations with the Minister of Education and the Department to look for solutions that work for all parties. While the Division received approval to declare Central Elementary School surplus to our needs, permission was not granted to dispose of it. Therefore, negotiations continue to this end, and there has been no resolution as of yet.
In 2017-18, an external consultant was hired to conduct facility reviews of many of our building and compile information previously received from Alberta Infrastructure to assist in developing a more comprehensive review of our facilities to aid in determining priorities for the Three and Ten Year Capital Plans. This was much needed groundwork for ongoing discussions for future capital and IMR plans, as well as a tool to find fair processes to aid in showing how administration evaluates recommendations to the Board.
Lastly, a new directive was mandated by Treasury to capitalize 30% of our Infrastructure, Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) funding, leading to a review of our practices with respect to projects applied against these funds. While this did not have major implications to the work completed, it required time to plan appropriately to meet the directive.