On Wednesday, Feb. 26 the Black Gold Regional School (BGRS) division held on open house to the public regarding Leduc schools configuration review.
The purpose of the open house was to allow parents a chance to give input on the current plan that has been put together.
The city of Leduc has been growing quite quickly and with the new school, West Haven Public school, set to be ready for the fall of 2016, the division needed to look at reconfiguring the schools to alleviate current and future overcrowding in the areas where growth has been and is expected to be abundant.
Norm Dargis, Division Principal with BGRS comments, “What we wanted to do was build capacity in the schools that we’re seeing a lot of growth in those neighbourhoods attached to those schools”.
The division displayed information that showed the intended process plan and schedule, the current and proposed grade configurations and boundaries, as well as projected information on expanding the French immersion program which is also growing.
The proposed changes are looking to affect the following schools, Caledonia Park, Corinthia Park, Leduc Estates and Lindsford Park.
Caledonia Park School, a K-9 school with 422 students enrolled, has seen a lot of growth in the Tribute, Meadowview, Southfork areas of Leduc, so a recommendation was been made to change it to a K-6 school which will build some capacity.
Since Corinthia Park School is currently at capacity or even slightly over with 451 students, attempts to alleviate space have been made by looking at the French Immersion program and expanding it over to the west side of the city. Corinthia Park is currently the only school in Leduc that offers French Immersion for grades K-6. The school is well known for their strength in celebrating the French culture, so a natural concern for parents might be, Can another K-6 school offer that same passion? Dargis explains that this is one of the concerns that have been looked at and they feel that there are enough students for a new school to be able to replicate it. “One of the biggest things we find associates whether or not a French culture permeates to a dual track school is the number of students that actually attend” he says. “We looked at the number of students on the west side of the highway and the number is approximately 140 students which gives us very good numbers to start off at West Haven with the French immersion program.”
The area of Deer Valley in Leduc has also seen some growth, causing concerns for Willow Park School, which currently has 273 students enrolled for students from K-6. Dargis says that currently residential homes in that area have been assigned to the Willow Park School. ”Willow Park is currently at capacity if not over capacity in regards to student enrollment so now what we are looking at is the neighbourhood of Deer Valley anything North of the ravine other than the existing structures that are there will be assigned to Lindsford Park just so that we can make sure that we don’t go over capacity at Willow park in the future,” adds Dargis.
Under the proposed changes Leduc Estates, a K-6 school with will just over 300 students enrolled will change to a K-3 school, the English 4-9 in that area will attend the new West Haven school. (With the French Immersion students K-6)
Dargis says that a working committee made up of two Leduc principals and one central office personnel was responsible to go through all of the data and come up with their suggestions. Once this was done the information was put through an advisory committee, made up of all the principals within the city of Leduc, school council chairs and trustee as well as a representative from the City of Leduc. “After that process here we are tonight at the open house and now it is an opportunity from the parents to give us some feedback as to what they think of our suggestions“, he says.
At the open house the school division received both positive and negative feedback from parents that attended. Many had verbalized concerns that their children would end up having to relocate to a different school, however many were pleasantly surprised that a lot of the students will be remaining within their current attendance boundaries. There was also an appreciation that the division understood how quickly the city of Leduc is growing and that they have taken this into consideration for the future.
Parents were also given the opportunity to give their comments in writing; anybody that was unable to attend the open house will still have an opportunity to submit their observations to BGRS until March 14, 2014. All of the information is available on their website under Leduc School configuration review.
Once the deadline for submission of comments is over the board will look at any written comments for consideration. The advisory committee will then meet on March 17 to review the comments and provide suggestion on how to move forward. Dargis says that once this process is done they will meet as a working committee and from there they will decide what their recommendation could be to go the Black Gold Board of Education to make the decision. He feels that at this point he doesn’t know if there will be any changes, “There may be large changes, there may be no changes, it all depends alot on the feedback that we receive “.
At this point the Black Gold Board of Education will make a decision on whether to accept, delay accepting or look at it again. All of this is expected to take place sometime in late spring of this year.
In the fall of 2016 the Leduc School configuration changes will take effect paralleling it with the opening West Haven Public school.