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Continued growth prompts request for new Catholic school

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The first month of school is almost over and Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools are excited about their continued growth. This year enrollment is up by 2 per cent, or about 100 students.

Even with the closure of St. Patrick School and adjustments to school boundaries, Superintendent Karl Germann says they continued to see additional children in almost every school. That growth was particularly concentrated in the city of Grande Prairie, leaving some schools feeling the pressure more than others. École St. Gerard, Mother Theresa and St. Kateri have the highest enrollment rates.

“Those are the areas which it appears families find lots of good homes and that’s where they’re settling into. Probably the most amazing stat is École St. Gerard having 122 kids in Kindergarten this year.”

Germann says current numbers, in addition to projected growth estimates of an additional 500 kids in three years and 1,000 in six, means even with the expected opening of St. John Paul II Junior-Senior School more room will be needed and soon.

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“The new board is going to have some decisions and some discussions that they’ll have to [have]. The current board made a lot of decisions for boundaries for kids, but there’s still going to be an on-going discussion about the need for facilities in this community. It’s a very young [community] and most of those kids are born already that will be coming in to those facilities, they’re just not school age yet.”

The upcoming municipal election means it is likely there will be some new faces on the board. Two seats in the rural area were acclaimed and nine people are running to fill five seats in the city. Germann says just this week the current board has requested an additional 950 student school for the O’Brien Lake area.

“That’s their number one capital priority. So, even though we are opening up St. John Paul II at the beginning of January and we’re modernizing St. Pat’s, there’s still a lot of demand and pressure.”

After the Christmas Break the new school will be ready for students. Only 250 children in grade eight and nine will be in the school this year, despite some pressure to include grade ten as well. Additional grades will be added each year so that within four, St. John Paul II will be operating at capacity.

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