Future of Okotoks Parent Link in limbo
Okotoks: Parents say elementary school not right for drop-in program
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 06:00 am
Staff with a local program for parents and their preschoolers is playing a game of green light, red light as they look for a new location in Okotoks.
The Okotoks Parent Link centre, previously run out at Mountain Shadows gymnastics club, was potentially moving into Big Rock School, but they are facing opposition from the school’s parents.
Parents with children at Big Rock School say they were caught off guard when they read in the Western Wheel Parent Link was looking to move its drop-in program to an empty classroom in the school.
“I was surprised it was being considered for a public school,” said Jamie McGregor, treasurer of the school’s parent council. “I hadn’t heard anything of it.”
McGregor said in the past he took his children to the drop-in program, which provides play space and crafts for pre-school aged children.
“It was fun,” he said. “It was a fun play time for them.”
However, he said the amount of traffic and people coming and going in and out of the school is concerning to himself and others.
“It adds a new dimension to security issues that schools aren’t prepared to face right now,” he said.
People living near the school likely wouldn’t appreciate any increase in the number of cars parked on their streets, he added.
Nikki Gass, program assistant with Parent Link, said they gave their notice at Mountain Shadows because after talking with the Foothills School Division they believed they would be able to run their drop-in program at the school.
“Our program was growing and we needed more full-time space,” Gass explained. “From the school division side it seemed like it was all going to work out.”
However, it was later discovered the Town’s bylaws don’t allow for this type of program at school sites.
Parent Link made a request to the Town to amend the bylaw at a council meeting in December. Last month administration recommended council turn down the request and encourage Parent Link to look elsewhere or consult the community on the issue.
Okotoks municipal enforcement team leader Tim Stobbs said although the student population is down at Big Rock School, traffic continues to be heavy on the Hunter’s Gate, particularly when parents are dropping students off before school and picking them up after school.
Council asked Stobbs’ team to do a daily traffic count. Last week he said they were conducting counts twice a day and said there may be a few spots open in the parking lot, but needed more time to be sure. He will report to council at their council meeting Jan. 28.
Council also asked for more information from Parent Link about the number of vehicles they thought their program would generate at the site.
Mayor Bill Robertson said he didn’t want to give up on the request, saying as a former elementary school teacher it seemed like a natural fit to have this program in a school.
The Big Rock parent group will also be at the meeting to air their concerns.