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Alberta will pay for four new high schools publicly, cancelling privatized financing and upkeep plans.

The government says it has “refined” its model to deliver new schools, “in response to the economic climate.”

The global credit crunch is behind the decision, according to a government spokesperson, who told the media “proponents would have trouble obtaining financing for a full 14-school P3 bundle.” The private financier involved in a first wave of 19 P3 schools in the province is on shaky financial footing.

Ten elementary and middle schools will still be built with private financing and major maintenance – a move that costs twice the price of public borrowing and upkeep.

The four high schools will be publicly financed, and designed and built by the private sector – the traditional way of building public facilities and infrastructure.

Alberta’s infrastructure minister told the media the public approach was a “far better way” to meet the “special needs for programming”. The chair of the Calgary Board of Education agreed, saying the school was on “a particularly challenging site” that “required a really specific design.”

The comments underscore a significant problem with Alberta’s school plans.

The province has argued privatization will save money by using a standard building design for all the schools. But this cookie cutter approach leads to inflexible facilities that can’t meet neighbourhood and community needs.

New elementary schools in Calgary can’t plan for child care facilities, under the restrictions of the P3 contract. Calgary parents have also criticized the one-size-fits-all approach for notsaying it doesn’t mesh with recommended class sizes.