On Friday afternoon, the Rocky View School Division called on UCP candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane, Peter Guthrie, to clarify and retract statements he made with regard to provincial funding to school projects.

"On two recent occasions, Mr. Guthrie accused the RVS Board and administration of lying to parents about the capital approvals received from the provincial government in Budget 2023," a press release from RVS stated. 

In a letter to Guthrie, Norma Lang, Board Chair for RVS wrote that the Board has been, 'honest, factual and consistent with the information they shared about the status of our school capital plan requests.'

"Mr. Guthrie, we request that you retract and clarify that RVS did not lie to parents as there were no construction funding approvals for any of these four projects received for RVS in Budget 2023," Lang added in the letter. 

In a virtual forum hosted by the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, May 24, Guthrie stated that 58 new school projects were approved and that there was a 5.2 per cent increase in education funding in the province's budget. 

"Even when they got called out by our government and the Minister of Education, they refused to correct the deception, and would only place a small correction on their app, which they later removed. So, it's disappointing that the school division put out this inaccurate information," Guthrie previously stated.

RVS however, stated that they stand behind the statement they shared with families on March 9, 2023. The letter in March underlined that while RVS was granted design funding for an elementary school in southwest Airdrie and preliminary planning funding for three other schools, including a new Airdrie high school, as well as new Cochrane and Chestermere elementary schools, it also underlined that The Board was frustrated. 

"Our rapidly growing division welcomes 1,000+ more students each year. Construction funding is needed now as it takes three to four years from the initial approval to build and open a new school."

On Friday evening, Guthrie issued a statement on social media, standing by his previous comments.

"The fact of the matter is RVS received their top 4 asks (2 schools in Airdrie, 1 in Chestermere and 1 in Cochrane) in addition to 10 of 19 portables awarded in the entire province. This was a big win for our constituency and our education community," Guthrie wrote. "Now that the inaccuracies of the RVS communication have been shown, they should take responsibility for the misleading correspondence to parents."

NDP candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane, Shaun Fluker also responded on his Twitter, stating that an NDP government would indeed fund schools.

NDP candidate for Airdrie-East, Dan Nelles, echoed Fluker's sentiments.

According to RVS, the division has more than 27,600 students and welcomes another 750 to 1,000 each year – enough to fill one to two new schools. In Airdrie alone, by 2027, there will be 10,127 K to Grade 8 students compared to 9,945 K to Grade 8 student spaces. This means that there would be 182 more students than spaces according to the projection. Currently, there is 104 per cent utilization rate in all Airdrie high schools.

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