May 29, 2014 1:36 pm

Parents ‘shocked and bamboozled’ over school closure: parent council chair

Watch above: Parents thought they had more time, but St. Brendan Catholic Elementary School will be closed in just a month. Kendra Slugoski reports.

EDMONTON – An Edmonton Catholic school will have its doors closed permanently at the end of the school year.

The Catholic School District has announced St. Brendan School – located in the Ottewell neighbourhood – will close this June to make way for construction of a Kindergarten to Grade 9 mega-school which is set to open in two years on the same site as St. Brendan.

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“It’s a safety issue. The footprint of the other school, it causes it to be a safety issue,” says Ida Poulin, principal of St. Brendan School.

Last week, it was decided that St. Brendan, along with St. James Elementary in King Edward Park and St. Kevin Junior High in Forest Heights, would be closed, but parents of students at St. Brendan didn’t anticipate the school would be closed so soon.

“The parents are feeling a bit shocked and bamboozled. They feel like this was never an option, that it was never going to close this quickly, that we’d have a chance to transition,” says Sherry Stewart, chair of the St. Brendan Parent Council.

“When the decision was made by the board last Tuesday, we believed at the time that we’d be able to have the students remain in St. Brendan while the replacement school was being built,” explains Lori Nagy, a spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools.

“However, the next day, administration met with Alberta Infrastructure and they let us know that no, for a number of reasons, including safety, even though the lot is very big, we would not be able to keep students at that site.”

“The safety issue is that they would have to tear down the school at some point… Of course, they can’t do that while students remain in the school.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Catholic School Board votes to close three schools

Stewart raised concerns about the transition for those students.

“It happened so fast that it’s after the deadlines. Parents can’t go to other schools. They’re scrambling because their cut-offs have already been made.”

However, St. Brendan’s principal says students already have a spot at St. James School which is about four kilometres away.

“Our students will be going to St. James School and they will get free transportation for the two years of construction.”

Nagy echoed that statement, saying all 130 St. Brendan students will go to St. James while the mega-school is being built and that transportation will be provided during that time.

Poulin says the entire St. Brendan staff will also move to St. James until the new mega-school is built.

“I really don’t want it to happen,” says Shauna Basso, who has a child in Kindergarten and another in Grade 2. “I really love this school and I think it’s one of the better schools here in Edmonton.”

“I was a little disappointed, but I think they’re handling things very well,” says Isabel Hazard, who has a child in Grade 2 and another starting school next year.

“They have busing going to the new school.  He’s starting Kindergarten next year. He was supposed to be going here, but he’ll be going to St. James and that will be OK – all their friends are going with them.”

The parent council will be meeting with the school board Thursday night.

Nagy says a letter was sent home to parents last week, but the meeting will provide parents with a timeline and ask questions they have.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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