(BLACK PRESS file photo)

Parents at odds with School Division over possible school closure

Division holds engagement meeting March 11, 6 p.m.

by Jessica Jones

For the Pipestone Flyer

Some parents near Calmar are up in arms following a motion by Black Gold School Division that could possibly close their children’s school.

New Humble Centre School, which currently educates 57 students, is located in rural Leduc County — about a seven minute drive south of the town of Clamar on Hwy 795.

The motion to consider the closure of New Humble Centre School was brought forward as a result of a Black Gold School Division (BGSD) review called the West End Review, explained Kelsey Huber, New Humble Community Group spokesperson.

“There are a lot of concerned parents,” she said. “Many are frustrated with the lack of answers, as well as with the data in the West End Review that came from the 2016-2017 school year.

“We don’t think a decision should be judged based on historical data rather than current information,” Huber added.

While some data is dated back to 2016-2017 agrees, Devonna Klaassen, Black Gold School Divison board chair trustee, “Other information came from sources as recent as this school year, 2019-2020.”

“We endeavour to make the best decisions with the information that is available to us,” Klaassen said.

“At times, further investigation is required and that is what we have tasked administration to do, provide further information,” she added.

If New Humble Centre School, which employs a principal, an education assistant, and three full-time teachers, is closed, Huber says she assumes many students will be bused to schools in Calmar but hasn’t heard of how BGSD will handle that transition. She adds that closing the rural school will be less of an attraction for families to move to the area.

“There would be a lot less reasons for people to want to move out this way,” she said.

“A small school that fosters inclusivity and a family environment is a huge draw for parents so this would definitely affect the attraction of the area.”

The West End Review notes that the 2016-2017 cost per student at New Humble Centre School, which includes administration, certified staffing, and custodians, is $4,195. This triples the 2016-2017 cost per student at Calmar Elementary School.

The review also states that the school, built in 1961, has a five-year deferred maintenance cost of $691,288.

“It remains to be seen how parents will be impacted, as the board has yet to vote on the notice of motion to close New Humble Centre School,” Klaassen said.

“All parents are encouraged to view the Viability Report being shared with the public via Black Gold School Division website on March 5 and March 6.”

Klaassen and Huber both encouraged community members to attend the public engagement evening on March 11 at New Humble Centre School from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. New Humble School is about a 30-minute drive northwest of Wetaskiwin.

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