The Department of Education plans the Alberta Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) school system. It receives school jurisdiction capital requests, submits capital funding requests to Treasury Board and recommends capital projects to the Minister of Education for approval. Then it funds approved projects.

The Department of Infrastructure provides Education with technical support for project cost and feasibility before the Minister of Education approves a project. Infrastructure also designs and constructs schools and oversees the delivery of any projects managed by school jurisdictions.

Beginning in 2011, the government made many announcements about building and modernizing schools. The program, estimated to cost $4.6 billion, had three phases:

The new building program marked a systemic shift for Education and Infrastructure. Prior to 2011, Education approved 18 schools per year on average. School jurisdictions also managed the design and construction of schools, with the exception of schools that were delivered under public-private partnerships. Infrastructure was responsible for overseeing projects managed by school jurisdictions.

Now, the school-building program has grown to over 230 schools. At the same time, Infrastructure’s responsibilities have grown. As well as overseeing projects managed by jurisdictions, Infrastructure began designing and building schools.

What we examined

In October 2015, the Minister of Education requested we examine the processes used to plan phases 2 and 3 of the school-building program. We assessed whether the departments of Education and Infrastructure have adequate systems to plan, deliver and report on phases 2 and 3 of the school building program.

Overall conclusion

School jurisdictions and Infrastructure are currently building phase 2 and 3 schools. Some schools will open within the originally announced completion dates, but many will not. The size and complexity of the school-building program grew quickly, and the systems to support the program did not keep pace. Neither Education nor Infrastructure has adequate systems to plan, deliver and report on the school building program. Education has not established adequate systems to oversee the school-building program. It needs to work with Infrastructure to improve operational processes to ensure that accountability for the results of the program is clear.
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