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Fort Macleod school modernization project is on schedule

The modernization of two Fort Macleod schools is proceeding on schedule.
Livingstone Range School Division superintendent Dave Driscoll said Thursday the schools are expected to be ready by the fall of 2016 as planned.
“We’re optimistic at this point,” Driscoll said.
The province is pouring an estimated $18-million into the modernization of W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe schools over the next two years.
School division officials have been meeting with architects and the construction company to finalize the project and work is to begin soon.
Work on removing asbestos will begin soon.
“We’re staying pretty close to where we wanted to be,” Driscoll said.
W.A. Day school will become home to Kindergarten to Grade 5 students.
F.P. Walshe school will house the Grade 6-12 classes.
G.R. Davis school will close when the modernization project is completed.
The project reflects declining enrollment in Fort Macleod schools as well as the need to bring the two schools to modern standards.
According to plans presented to the public in the spring, W.A. Day school will have seven classrooms, with four looking out onto 20th Street and the other three directly across a hallway.
When people enter the building from 20th Street they will find administration offices and meeting rooms to their right and a collaboration room to the left.
As they continue moving into the building people will encounter a “learning commons” that adjoins a music room.
There will no longer be a stage in the 550 square metre gymnasium, so school concerts will be held in the learning commons.
Also included in the project is construction of a family centre by Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.
The family centre will have a kitchen that will have a capacity for 16 people to cook in programs offered by the organization, as well as a preschool room.
The Good Food Box program run by Kids First will utilize a flex room in the school for the monthly pick-up of food.
A gross motor room will be in the Kids First addition that will be open year-round and available for parents to bring their young children on a drop-in basis and for scheduled programs.
The F.P. Walshe school modernization project is designed to create open spaces, allow more natural light in the build and set up a flexible learning environment.
The school entrance will move to the east end of the building.
The entrance leads to a fitness room and the gymnasium, drama and music rooms to the left and offices and staff room and work area to the right.
There will be a large learning commons area near the front entrance that adjoins the library. The ceiling will be raised to allow natural lighting in the learning commons.
Classrooms for the Grade 9-12 students are in a hallway at the north end of the building, with a flex space and home economics room and commercial kitchen is also located.
The science labs are on the south end of the building.
Six classrooms and two flex rooms for Grade 6-8 students are grouped together on the west end of the building, effectively creating a middle school pod.
The shop and classrooms will be in their present location on the south end of the building.
The north end of F.P. Walshe where the school office and professional development room are located will be demolished.
While the work is going on, the Grade 1-5 students will be housed in a building on 26th Street that initially housed community health and later the Lethbridge College satellite campus.
The Kindergarten, preschool and Grade 6-12 students are being housed in the G.R. Davis school building.
“In the situation that we have it’s probably the best we could come up with,” Driscoll said. “The staff have been great getting it ready.”
Driscoll said the school division considered several alternatives in Fort Macleod before settling on the two buildings
“It’s better than some of the alternatives that can happen during modernizations,” Driscoll said. “We don’t want students working in construction zones and having to move them around every three months.”
“This gives them at least a home and a sense of a school and a building that is theirs.”
Driscoll said the students are adaptable to their new surroundings and it is up to parents and staff to support them.
“I’m hoping that it is a positive environment for everybody,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll said Fort Macleod was fortunate to have the two buildings at its disposal during modernization.
“We’re working with what we have,” Driscoll said. “We’re thankful we had a place to go to because there are a lot of communities through modernization don’t have that opportunity.”

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