CRCS Okotoks students not Davisburg bound

Education: Boundaries between schools may change in 2015-16

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 08:48 am

Ron Schreiber, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools-Okotoks Ward trustee, speaks to parents and division staff during a meeting concerning boundaries and the new Davisburg school scheduled to open in September 2016.
Ron Schreiber, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools-Okotoks Ward trustee, speaks to parents and division staff during a meeting concerning boundaries and the new Davisburg school scheduled to open in September 2016.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools does not plan to send Okotoks students to the new K-9 school in Davisburg when it opens in the fall of 2016. However, a decision if and where boundaries will be drawn in Okotoks to shift students from the packed Good Shepherd School to St. Mary’s School has yet to be determined.

CTR-Catholic superintendent of schools Scott Morrison told approximately 50 parents and staff members at a meeting May 13 at Holy Trinity Academy, there are no plans to send Okotoks students to Davisburg.

“We want to educate Okotoks students in Okotoks,” Morrison said. “Based on what we see prior to the next two years when Davisburg is built, we believe we can handle Okotoks kids in Okotoks.”

At present, the K-6 Good Shepherd School is at 125 per cent capacity. There are 827 students for the school, which has a capacity for 679 students. Moving 58 kindergarten students to HTA (see sidebar) this September will reduce that capacity to 113 per cent.

When the K-9 Davisburg school opens in 2016, the kindergarten students will move back to Good Shepherd School. As well an estimated 150 Good Shepherd students who live in the MD of Foothills will attend school at Davisburg. The move will drop the Good Shepherd’s capacity to 100 per cent.

However, there is the possibility the attendance boundary for Good Shepherd School, which is located in the Tower Hill area, will be changed in order to send students to the less crowded St. Mary’s School in Cimarron which currently has a capacity of 87 per cent.

Morrison said any change of boundaries would not come into effect until the start of the 2015-16 school year.

“We need a few kids out of Good Shepherd, we don’t need 200 kids out of Good Shepherd, it is closer to 50,” Morrison said. “Our goal would be to draw a line north of Okotoks to draw students to Davisburg school to make Good Shepherd School as comfortable as possible.

“We don’t want to make changes that cause little ones anxiety.”

One of the concerns is Good Shepherd School offers French Immersion, while at this time, St. Mary’s does not.

Rossana Morigeau has children taking French Immersion at Good Shepherd School. She said one option to consider is offering the program at St. Mary’s so parents living in south Okotoks do not have to send their children to Good Shepherd School to take French Immersion.

“French Immersion should be at St. Mary’s as well,” she said. “There are a lot of parents sending their kids to Good Shepherd because it offers French Immersion.”

Good Shepherd parent Mark Niven agreed.

“French Immersion should be offered on both sides of the town,” Niven said during a round-table discussion at the meeting. “By putting it in only one school, it shoved everybody into the one school (God Shepherd).”

Niven added if a line is drawn in Okotoks, it is going to upset somebody.

“When you are trying to figure out who is going to move, every parent in every area is going to say: ‘well, not us. I’m not going to go,”’ Niven said. “Until the school division does make a move, every parent is going to say ‘not us.’’’

In an interview after the meeting, Morrison said adding French Immersion to St. Mary’s and potentially Davisburg is on the table.

“At this point, everything is a possibility,” he said.

The Davisburg school will also take some pressure off of St. John Paul II Collegiate, a junior high school that is at 91 per cent capacity.

A CTR-Catholic information sheet stated JPII could comfortably add another 40 to 50 students at present.

The building of the Davisburg school will further take pressure off JPII.

The Davisburg school will initially start as K-7 and add a grade in each of the subsequent years until Grade 9.

That is being done to ensure no JPII students have their schooling disrupted in the middle of their three junior high school years.

Morrison stressed no decision on boundaries will be made without extensive consultation with staff, students, parents and other stakeholders. He said not only does consultation provide valuable information and ideas it also stops speculation.

He had heard speculation that students east of 32 Avenue would go to Davisburg school. That idea was never on the table.

He not only heard a few of the parents’ frustrations at the meeting, he welcomed it.

“We expect to be anxiety and frustration but that is exactly what we want to hear so we can address any issues and make the best possible decisions,” he said.

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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