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Rosscarrock School saved from closure in 4-3 CBE vote

Rosscarrock School has been granted a reprieve, after a close vote by the Calgary Board of Education trustees on Tuesday.

Parents in the community had been rallying to save the school since February, when the CBE officially put the school under consideration for closure.

Nathalie Iseli-Chan was one of the parents in the community who wrote letters to the board, urging them to keep the school open. Her daughter will now attend Kindergarten at the school in the fall.

“It’s great news – not just for me and my family – I think it’s great news for the community,” she said. “I think it was a collective effort.”

The board debated the motion to close the school on Tuesday for 90 minutes. Trustees spoke of the difficulty of the decision, given the personal stories they had heard from parents in the area.

Rosscarrock’s population does have a higher number of low-income families than surrounding communities. The board heard that 48 per cent of students are English-language learners.

The board heard that many are new Canadians, and that they were worried about losing the community bonds that have formed around the school, which is only at about one third of its total capacity this year.

Trustee Marilyn Dennis, who voted in favour of the closure, said it was her least-favourite day as a trustee, and wiped away tears as she spoke.

She noted the difficulty of spending 50 per cent of the discretionary funds for about 40 schools on Rosscarrock alone, in order to keep it open.

“For me, the saving money part ranks pretty low on the list of factors,” said Dennis. “What ranks really high for me is – are we using the resources we do have in the most effective and impactful way possible?”

Trustee Julie Hrdlicka, who voted against the closure, spoke about the human factor in making her decision.

“If we just looked at the numbers – it’s pretty easy,” she said. “But there are stories. There are very important stories behind those numbers. As trustees, we have to look at all of it.”

The 2018-19 school year was the first where Rosscarrock had not been used as an overflow school for programs at nearby Cougar Ridge and West Springs School.

Trustees spoke about giving the school more time to allow the local school culture to flourish.

The vote on the motion to close the school was supported by trustees Bradshaw, Dennis, Hurdman, but defeated by Trustees Hrdlicka, Hehr, Davis and Adams.