Noble Central School in Nobleford is part of the Alberta Government’s Building Alberta Plan, which will provide mechanical, electrical and exterior upgrades, as the school undergoes modernization, similar to other schools throughout southern Alberta.
Last week, Ric McIver, Alberta minister of infrastructure, paid a visit to the school to make the announcement regarding the modernization project, as the school heads into a new era of tech-friendly and better accessible hallways and classrooms. The amount of monetary funding being invested into the project will be announced at a later date.
“Obviously, we can’t give dollar values right now because we have to get the best deal on behalf of taxpayers that we can and if you tell the bidders on the project how much money you’ve got in your wallet you know that they will use all of it. We’ll announce the cost of the project after the tenders have been awarded because the public has the right to know. That way we can let them know and also get them the best deal along the way,” said McIver, during his visit to the school.
McIver noted the project will commence right away, after Alberta Infrastructure discusses details with the school board and Noble Central School Principal Scott Oikawa, reviewing the scope of work previously discussed.
“This isn’t something the government’s doing to the board — this is something the government’s doing with the board. We’re taking their advice on what needs to be done so there will be some exterior improvements and interior improvements. The school will become more accessible for those students that have mobility challenges. There will be technology offerings that aren’t available now and some other course offerings that aren’t available now,” said McIver, adding Noble Central School is a nice school now but will be even nicer.
Last spring, Alberta Premier Alison Redford committed to build and modernize 120 schools throughout the province.
Don Zech, vice-chairman of the Palliser Regional School board, was also on hand to welcome the long time coming modernization news.
“The school’s a viable part of the community and it is a viable school now. At one time the enrolment had dropped really badly here but it’s recovered. People are supporting the school in their community and it definitely needs some upgrades,” said Zech, adding the school currently isn’t a handicapped-friendly building.
“That’s really going to be important. And there’s other things that need to be done too,” he added.
Zech is no stranger to the school. He was educated at the school from 1950 to 1962 and when he began his stint at the Nobleford school it was only just over five months old.
“I was valedictorian of my class. I went into education and I came back here in 1979 as a school administrator and I stayed here for 10 years. In those 10 years, those were the most difficult years because we were losing population,” said Zech, moving on to gain experience as principal of other schools, time as a deputy superintendent and after he retired he became a trustee on the Palliser Regional School board.
“I served three years as a trustee and then nine years as board chairman. I stepped down this year as board chairman. I’m vice-chair,” he said, adding it’s been an adventure.
Zech still lives on his family’s homestead about five miles out of town and the family farm has been around for the past 107 years.
“I have some really deep roots in the community and I want to be able to see the community prosper. In a small rural area, if the school doesn’t prosper, the community will die. That’s something you don’t want to see. These communities have a really valid place in the province,” said Zech.