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CBE superintendent recommends closure of Rosscarrock school

The Calgary Board of Education’s administration is officially recommending the closure of Rosscarrock Elementary, but parents in the community aren’t ready to give up.

The school has been under consideration for closure since February. On Tuesday, the CBE is set to debate and possibly vote on the matter.

Nathalie Iseli-Chan’s daughter is set to attend Rosscarrock School this fall, as long as the Calgary Board of Education’s board of trustees vote against that recommendation.

Iseli-Chan said she and her husband moved from Hong Kong and chose Rosscarrock over any other Calgary community because of the school.

“When I was a kid back in France in my small village, school was my second home,” she said. “That’s what I wanted for my children.”

Iseli-Chan said Rosscarrock is a lively, multicultural community that’s very walkable.

“What we liked about the school is that it’s multicultural,” she said. “On the CBE website they advertise that there are 22 different languages spoken.”

The school was put under consideration in part due to low enrollment numbers. Although there is room for over 300 students, there were just over 100 students enrolled this year.

The Rosscarrock Community Association is against the possible closure. It has argued that the city of Calgary’s population projections show a densifying neighbourhood that will see more young families in the next decade.

In a report to the school board, Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of Schools for the CBE, is recommending that the board of trustees approve the closure of Rosscarrock.

His report says that opening the school in the fall could cost an extra $150,000 of CBE discretionary funds. Conversely, having area students go to nearby schools would result in a savings of $200,000 on the per-school allotment.

The school board would also save between $150,000 and $190,000 on custodial cost, maintenance and repairs.

Usih’s report says there would be no impact on transportation costs because students would be in walking distance of other schools.

Although there are other schools within 1.6 kilometres of all children who currently attend Rosscarrock, Iseli-Chan and other parents say there’s more to it than drawing lines on a map.

Iseli-Chan said she walked to two of the potential schools earlier this month. It took her 20 and 25 minutes to get to Glenbrook and Wildwood schools respectively.

“I was alone, the weather was nice, I didn’t have any kids to herd and I didn’t have any stroller to push,” she said. “It was the optimum conditions to go there. I cannot imagine any parent having to walk with one, two or three children.”

She said crossing Bow Trail was especially troubling for her, and she’d hate to do it day after day with small children.

Although the matter is on the agenda for the purpose of a decision, it’s unclear if the trustees will actually have the final vote on Tuesday.

Christine Reynolds, owner of Creative Discoveries Preschool – located in the school – said she and other parents have been told the decision may not be made on Tuesday.

“From what I understood, the decision has not yet been made. Ideally, they’re going to take time to look at the letters that we’ve written,” she said.

Iseli-Chan said she’ll be going to the meeting on Tuesday to show the board trustees that they’re listening.

“Just to show that there are faces behind the letters we sent,” she said. “Those are not just words and there are people, there are stories, there are lives at stake.”