By Cole Parkinson
The year may be heading towards its end, but the Horizon School Board still has plenty of work left in regard to many of its facility updates.
The biggest being the modernization in Milk River, which will see a new building replacing Milk River Elementary School and Erle Rivers High School and allow the learning community to come together under one roof at the site of the elementary school.
“We have a $1.7 million budget approved for the design of that capital project and they’ve started doing that. We’ll be discussing that more in committee on the possible design,” explained Bruce Francis, vice-chair.
The board was also updated on Horizon’s Infrastructure, Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) projects.
“IMR projects for 2021 are complete. The last one to get completed was the Lomond heating. It is substantially completed which means it will actually get heat. We still need to get some thermostats and things like that, but we do have heat. So when it gets cold, that will work,” continued Francis.
The schools have also continued to deal with restrictions and safety measures due to the pandemic.
Continuing into the new year, there will be many more decisions needed as schools still have staff and students in their hallways.
“We did discuss COVID protocols right along with the policy we went over and what that will mean with contractors,” confirmed Francis. “We also discussed the possibility of what will happen caretaking-wise, as we assume we will get an official announcement in March for the approval of the modernization out in Milk River. We can’t say it is official until the government says so when the budget comes out in March.”
The last project updates brought to the board was around Taber Christian High School.
The new facility is currently being built alongside 50th Street, near Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Complex. Construction work has already begun at the site but there are plenty of things left to do before students walk the halls.
“The two wings are almost completely framed. The plumbers are planning to start roughing everything and we just received our shipment of q-decking. Once that is in place, we can move forward with the roof and lay the concrete floor,” reads an update on TCHS’ website.
The board was reminded how the school got to this point.
“In 2009, Taber Christian School came to the board to seek admittance to become an alternative program within the public school division. Prior to that, for 20 or 30 years, they operated as a private school within the community. They joined and there was an agreement made between their society, which owns their building — it’s one of the buildings we don’t actually own. They are in the midst of expanding that school to a high school and it’s now being built north of town,” explained Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools.
It may have been a long process to get to this point, but Tymensen says the hard work has paid off, though the timeline of when it will be fully opened is still not set in stone.
“They have been fundraising for a number of years and it’s now in the steel framing process. I think they are hoping to have it function by the end of September, but I can’t imagine that timeline will be met due to COVID. It may be Christmas or a year later.”