Parents and students will come together Thursday to have their voice heard on a school closure east of Calgary.
Families with students attending the Prince of Peace Lutheran school just off 16 Avenue NE and Stoney Trail hope their voice can influence an upcoming decision on whether the school should be closed due to expiration of the lease with a Calgary-based property company.
The Rocky View Schools (RVS) facility began public consultation under the Alberta Education School Closure Regulations with the first public meeting November 14. At that meeting they delivered a presentation outlining the situation and providing background, which involves Sage Properties, who leases the location to RVS. Stakeholder presentations to the RVS Board of Trustees is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 13.
Michelle Robinson’s daughter is one of more than 300 Calgary kids that attend the school. The school has 469 kids enrolled. Her daughter’s been attending it since preschool and is now in Grade 6.
“We need to keep this school,” said Robinson, noting that dispersing the students to other surrounding schools would push many of them beyond maximum utilization.
“It means that 469 kids have no place to fit.”
Robinson said the school closure could be averted if a deal between Sage and Rocky View Schools could be reached.
Sage Properties was contacted by LiveWire Calgary for comment on the story Wednesday morning but didn’t respond by the time the story was published Wednesday evening. In the Rocky View Schools presentation delivered Nov. 14, RVS indicated that they’ve been trying to negotiate another two-year lease, but an agreement with Sage hadn’t yet been reached.
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RVS also indicated they twice approached the province about a purchase of the school. The province confirmed they’d received a request regarding Prince of Peace Lutheran School but said that they’re juggling a variety of different priorities and said there aren’t funds available to support the purchase.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that every student receives a high-quality education that enriches their life and prepares them for success. I encourage Rocky View Schools to continue working collaboratively with the local municipality and Education staff in developing the jurisdiction’s three-year capital plan and identifying a site that is ready for a future school project in Chestermere,” read a statement provided by Education Minister David Eggen.
The school had a flood over the summer and as a result, major renovations were undertaken to get it up to snuff, Robinson said. So, she’s concerned that a newly-refurbished school is going to be scuttled. While the RVS presentation said there’s still $4.1 million in unfunded maintenance work that still needs to be done on the school, she said a lot of schools are in the same boat and not being shut down.
Robinson said it’s been a troubling couple of months for many of the parents.
I’m talking to parents, most of whom are apolitical, I’m talking to them and most of them are in tears,” she said.
“They’re really feeling like it’s the community itself being ripped apart from underneath them and that they have no options.”
“These are people of faith. They have faith a resolution will be figured out.”
Further public meetings are scheduled before a board deliberation in scheduled for early February.
Robinson is hoping a deal gets done.
The group trying to save the school has a letter writing campaign for those people looking to support them. For more information, visit the Save Prince of Peace Lutheran School Facebook page.