‘It’s a nightmare’: Edmonton parents upset after southeast school boundaries change again

Click to play video 'Enrolment boundaries for Michael Strembitsky School once again shrinking' Enrolment boundaries for Michael Strembitsky School once again shrinking
WATCH ABOVE: The enrolment boundaries at Michael Strembitsky School are once again shrinking. This time entire grades are being moved. Kendra Slugoski reports – Jan 15, 2016

EDMONTON – Hundreds of Edmonton parents are frustrated and emotionally drained after Edmonton Public Schools once again decided to change the boundaries for Michael Strembitsky School in southeast Edmonton.

The grades will also be changing. Right now it operates as a K-9 school. As of next year, Kindergarten will no longer be offered, and in 2017/2018, Grade 1 will also be eliminated.

READ MORE: Decision made to deal with enrolment pressures at Michael Strembitsky School

For those living in the area, it’s a huge disappointment.

“It’s a nightmare for my family. Financially and emotionally.”

This is the second time Cynthia Khan and her family have gone through boundary changes with Michael Strembitsky School.

“Two years ago we were kicked out with our four children,” said Khan. “So we moved into the zone to continue them at the school. We thought we were doing the best thing for our children.  Now we’re kicked out again. So our children are going through another emotional roller coaster.”

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The Khan’s new home is in a cul-de-sac across the street from the school. With the new zoning guidelines her four children must now head north, across Anthony Henday Drive, to Menisa Elementary School and Dan Knott Junior High.

“We checked with the school board and this was in the [Michael Strembitsky] zone and there was going to be no rezoning or anything,” said Khan. “So there was actually a verbal conversation with the school board that this was in the zone.”

Since opening it’s doors, Michael Strembitsky School has been bursting at the seams. Portables have been added, but that’s still not enough.

“This will happen in two years again,” said Khan.

“I almost guarantee this will happen again and it’s going to affect more families again.

“There’s 880 kids aged zero to four in this neighbourhood that have not even entered the school.”

Edmonton Public Schools says it understands some parents are not pleased with the changes. It says this is not a long-term solution but it is the best plan for right now.

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“There are going to be instances, unique instances, where it doesn’t fit everybody’s complete vision,” said Chris Wright, managing director of Infrastructure for Edmonton Public Schools. “We’ve really tried to balance all the feedback we’ve gotten and put forward a solution that really does, at the end of the day, support all the excellent teaching and learning in southeast Edmonton.”

“I think [the changes are] good.  I think they’re necessary,” said Donna La, who has two sons who attend the school. “It’s not going to make everyone happy but it’s definitely necessary.  You see how busy this school is.”
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“It’s understandable because they have too many children and they have to find a solution,” said Arthy Geya. “But as a parent it’s not very easy for us.”

Geya’s oldest son is in Kindergarten right now. Her youngest son was supposed to enter Kindergarten at Michael Strembitsky School next year, but now, that’s not an option.

“We live just two minutes from the school and we have to drive to Menisa School now,” she said. “I am not very happy about the decision but we have no choice, right?”

Many parents also don’t understand how it got to this point in the first place.

“This school is way overcrowded,” said Morgan Zazalak, who has two kids that go to the school. “I don’t understand how there wasn’t better planning. And then the people who are buying houses and building here have to bus their kids out, when literally you can throw a rock at the school. I mean there’s really poor planning.”

Edmonton Public Schools says busing will be provided for students who now fall out of the school boundaries. However, parents will be on the hook for part of that cost.