Frustrated families protest Calgary Board of Education changes to Langevin School

CBE removed a grandfathered clause that gave community residents top priority in a lottery system

Parents Anna Willians (left) and Stephanie Felker rallied outside Langevin School against Calgary Board of Education decision to remove a grandfathered clause that gave community residents top priority in a lottery system. JOSIE LUKEY / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

More than a dozen families gathered at Langevin School on Monday to express their frustration with a Calgary Board of Education (CBE) decision made earlier this year.

In June, the Calgary Herald reported the CBE expanded the Priority 1 boundary beyond Bridgeland to include the school’s entire walk zone. 

That’s ruffled the feathers of parents in Bridgeland hoping to have their kids attend Langevin School’s science program.

“Our family has been in the community for 100 years and I’ve lived here for 30,” said Stephanie Felker, who helped organize the rally.

“They did not consult with the community about the changes and they did not announce it at an open house that they had in February for parents.”

Previously, Langevin was in line with the average CBE science school walk zone of around 4 square kilometres. But the new area covers around nine square kilometres.

Earlier this year, the CBE removed a grandfathered clause that gave community residents top priority in a lottery system to access Langevin School. 

That means at the start of the 2020 school year, Bridgeland students will be entered into a bigger lottery system. They’ll compete with kids inside the new larger walk zone.

First priority students for Langevin School now includes a walk zone covering seven communities. Screenshot.

A graphic provided by Felker shows first priority now includes a walk zone covering seven communities: Renfrew, Crescent Heights, St. George’s Heights, Eau Claire, East Village, Victoria Park and Bridgeland. 

Those boundaries stretch from 17 Avenue SW eastbound to Deerfoot Trail, north to 16 Avenue NE and westward to 4 Street SW.

Enrolment chances close to zero: Felker

Felker said that in the past, Bridgeland families received first priority in the lottery for enrolment at Langevin School. This meant enrolment was nearly guaranteed.

With the new changes, Felker said enrollment chances are close to zero.  

“Langevin is our only neighbourhood school that people can walk to. With the changes it means that you’ve got almost a 0 per cent chance of getting your child into the school even if you live across the street. It’s gone down to about a 50 per cent chance if you have a sibling in the school, whereas before siblings were prioritized,” Felker said.

Calgary Board of Education Responds

In an emailed statement, the CBE says the Langevin School community was one of three schools informed of changes to their lottery process. These changes would take place for the 2020-21 year. 

“These three schools have been giving a grandfathered priority to students in the community. This is being discontinued to align their lotteries with the system-wide process. While this change can be difficult for the communities closest to the school, it helps to ensure fair and equitable access to the Science Program to students in other communities from a wider geographic area,” the statement read.

The two other schools impacted are Willow Park School in the southeast and Glamorgan School in the southwest.

Only alternative is school in Renfrew

Anna Williams moved to Bridgeland six years ago with the intent of her children going to Langevin. The mother of two children under three-years-old said they attended information sessions every year and knew Bridgeland residents received priority. 

“So we’ve moved our whole life around it. Now, two years before my preschooler is about to start kindergarten, they do this backroom decision and don’t even communicate it to the community. They only communicated it to current parents who perhaps are least affected by these decisions,” she said.

Williams added the way things are, they will not be able to enroll their children at Langevin.

“The CBE’s decision effectively removed access to our neighbourhood school and we don’t have a viable alternative. The only alternative is Stanley Jones up in Renfrew, which is also at capacity.” 

“So where am I supposed to send my kid to school?”

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