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Calgary councillor advocates for new Catholic high school

Calgary Councillor Jeff Davison is hoping to drum up more support for a Catholic high school in his ward.

Over the past few months, the Ward 6 Councillor and his office have been raising the issue with local MLAs and school board trustees from the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). 

Davison said while funding school builds is a provincial responsibility, there are immediate implications with the lack of a Catholic high school. 

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“It can take upwards of an hour for students to get to their nearest designated Catholic high school like St. Mary’s or even Bishop Carroll. So sometimes people aren’t sticking to the board they may necessarily support because they’re looking for schools closer to home,” Davison said.

With no Catholic high school in the area, many parents have decided to pull their children from that system, Davison said. Now, parents are enrolling them in the public school system. Davison said that influx is directly contributing to the overflow of students in other Calgary high schools.

The problem has led to the CBE to host a series of public meetings on overcrowded high schools.

West Calgary High School a priority: CCSD

CCSD Board of Trustee Chair Mary Martin said they expect their current student population of 58,000 to grow. She added the CCSD serves a metro and regional area with diverse needs and consider many factors when developing their three-year capital plan

“While the West Calgary High School is a Year One priority for 2020-2021, our most urgent priority is that of a modernization of St. Martin de Porres School, designed to accommodate the rapidly increasing high school population in Airdrie,” she said.

The CCSD currently has three new schools in various stages of development. A K-6 school in Auburn Bay is expected to open next fall and another K-6 school will open fall 2021 in Evanston. There’s also a K-7 school in Airdrie that opened this fall.

The CCSD is hoping the new schools relieve overcrowding pressures at current schools while also providing room for growth. 

“The current ranking of our West Calgary High School is determined based upon objective provincial and jurisdictional criteria. The Capital Plan needs to balance new construction with modernization projects,” Martin said.

“These modernization projects allow older schools to continue to serve as optimal learning spaces for our students. Funding for all capital priorities is at the sole discretion of the province.”

Ward 6 sits west of the city. Its boundaries stretch from Glenmore Trail SW eastward to 37 Street SW, north to the TransCanada Highway and westward past 85 Street SW. City of Calgary/Screenshot.

Thousands of people expected to move into Ward 6

Davison expects thousands of people will move into his ward in the next few years. He’s hoping that by bringing together the City, CCSD and the Province something will get done.

“It’s really just about, reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, we want to start advocating for this, because it’s a growing concern in our community,’” he said.