BRSD to look at attendance boundaries
Last year École Sifton School in Camrose had a utilization rate of 81 per cent. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
This school year has not yet started and already the Battle River School Division is looking to next year.
In this case it is about the potential for redrawing the attendance boundaries for their four elementary schools in Camrose. The division reconfigured the schools within the city three years ago, now they are looking at it again to see if further adjustment is needed. The reconfiguration moved all Grade 6 students from the neighbourhood elementary schools into École Charlie Killam School and all Grade 9 students into École Camrose Composite High School. This turned ECKS into a middle school and CCHS into a Grade 9-12 high school. Pre-kindergarten classes were also expanded in the elementary schools.
The new study is part of ensuring what they have in place is still working.
“They may or may not change, but do they still make sense?” said BRSD community relations Advisor Diane Hutchinson.
“Camrose has grown, there’s been development in different corners of the city. And so, where the lines are drawn, it’s just an opportunity to look at that and say ‘Is that how we want it?’ We promised we are going to do it and we’re going to do it.”
The meetings are scheduled to begin on Sept. 13 at the BRSD head office, but they are going to be an in-depth process involving all local school partners — the school administrators, parent councils and the board. It is the same process they took when they went through reconfiguration.
The board has been working on collecting city demographic information in order to help them predict how the community is growing and developing and where potential future students and their families live so they can more effectively utilize Sifton School, Chester Ronning School, Jack Stuart School and Sparling School. Exact school populations will not be known until the beginning of October, though the schools will have a good idea where they stand prior to that.
Each school has a rated capacity which is when they would be 100 per cent full, but generally schools are considered full at about 80 per cent of their rated capacity. Each school also has a utilization rate, which is based on the current number of students.
Last year Chester Ronning was at a 55 per cent utilization rate with 279 students for their 506 rated spots, though the school is also home to the Battle River Online School, which is not included in the rates; Jack Stuart is rated for 391 and had 274 last year for a utilization rate of 70 per cent; École Sifton School is rated for 387 and had 268 last year, for a utilization rate of 81 per cent; and Sparling School is rated for 239 and had 137 in attendance last year, for a rate of 57 per cent.
There will also likely be some turnover on the school board in the next six weeks with the upcoming municipal election Oct. 16. The deadline for candidates to complete the required forms and have them into the BRSD office is Sept. 18 at noon. BRSD consists of eight trustees, two in Camrose, two in Camrose County, two in Flagstaff County and two in Beaver County. While a full candidates list will not be released until Sept. 19, long-time Beaver County West Trustee Rebecca Heiberg announced in the spring she would not be seeking another term.
Of particular issue for incoming candidates is the Education Act review at the provincial level. The Education Act review is taking into consideration about what an education in Alberta should include and focus on.
“The provincial government is asking for input and they’re putting things together,” said Hutchinson. “Because they’re asking for input from school boards, that’s something candidates should be thinking about — big picture, what are the important aspects of education in the 21st century?”
When it comes to specifics, candidates are encouraged to be passionate about more than one education-related issue, as many things will come up over the course of a four-year term.
The election could also potentially affect the negotiations with Cornerstone Christian Academy regarding their status with the school board. The school board voted to end their agreement with CCA after discussions fell apart over the insertion of a communication clause in their working agreement following issues over the use of certain Bible passages in their mission statement and the school’s society went public.
They have until the end of the school year to come to a new agreement. Heiberg was on the small committee formed by the school board for the discussions.