Phase one of a massive multi-year modernization project, including the removal of the front area of the St. Martin de Porres High School is underway. 

An internal note sent to parents and guardians of students at the school noted that the demolition portion of the project could last up to five weeks. 

"As always, our main priority is to continue to provide your child with quality education in a safe and supportive faith-based learning environment. We are working closely with the construction team to ensure they keep noise during the school day to a minimum," a letter from school Principal, Michaela Hashiguchi, stated. 

According to a Calgary Catholic School District (CSSD) spokesperson, all classes are running as normal at the school.

In September 2018, the St. Martin de Porres High School addition and modernization plan became the Year 1, Priority 1 project in the district's 2021-2024 Three-Year Capital Plan. Provincial funding for this project was announced in March 2021.

In a letter in mid-October 2023, Deneen Nolan Area Director for Central and Airdrie Schools stated that in 2021, parents were notified that the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) was proceeding with modernization and enhancement plans for St. Martin de Porres.

In December 2022, 'parents were provided with an update letter that identified that the St. Martin de Porres modernization project was scheduled to begin in January/February 2023 and would be a multi-year project divided into three stages, with each stage’s scope of work requiring about [one-and-half] years to complete.'

Nolan also underlined in the letter that while appeared that the project had not yet begun, 'a number of modifications have been made to the school, including but not limited to, the relocation of data/network equipment, adjustments to the mechanical and electrical equipment, and other architectural and life safety changes.'

The letter also enumerated some challenges that were encountered during the process, including an increase in the cost of construction.

"...This necessitated a cost-savings exploration phase, which took time. The project has been tendered, but unfortunately, there were no interested bidders. CCSD administration has adjusted the tender package based on the feedback and has retendered the project are optimistic we will receive compliant bidders on the retendered project, and move forward with construction as soon as possible."

At the end of October 2023, the CSSD Board of Trustees laid out the phases of the project, as well as a timeline of how things were progressing. 

CSSD stated that because it did not have the capacity in its various proximal Airdrie and Calgary schools to support K-12 students without utilizing St. Martin De Porres (SMDP), other Airdrie schools also did not have the program capabilities to offer high school programming.

"Therefore, a multi–year, multi-phase project has been carefully planned for SMDP. Grade reconfigurations have attempted to reduce the student population at SMDP for the duration of the project."

In phase one of the project, the demolition of the front of the building would be completed, with the construction of a new learning commons, as well as career and technology spaces, including high-tech computer labs, as well as a space for cosmetology. Other construction would include the vast majority of classrooms, the cafeteria, student gathering spaces, food services spaces, a Chapel, and a new administrative area.  

"Implementing a project of this size and scope necessitates some accommodation at the school level as different areas of the building are modernized – this includes shifting classroom spaces and the closing of areas of the school for periods of time," the presentation stated.

The secondary phases of the project will include the demolition and reconstruction of the rear half of the gymnasium, the removal of portables and construction of new instructional spaces, as well as the modernization of remaining classroom spaces. Previously, school officials stated that phase one of the project is the largest and most complex, requiring 18-24 months of construction

"Phase 2A is also significant and would require 14-18 months, phase 1B and 2B are less significant and may take 6 – 9 months."

Concerns over the project were voiced by parents during a round-table discussion in late October of last year. Some of the concerns included the length of time of the project - which was estimated to be five years, as well as the seemingly slow progress on the project.

According to the Government of Alberta's website, when completed, the additional space at St. Martin de Porres High School will be able to accommodate up to 1,200 students in grades 8 to 12. The province also estimates that the total cost of the project will be over $50 million. 

St. Martin de Porres High School was originally constructed in 1998. It is the only Catholic high school facility in Airdrie. 

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