Eleven new public schools are scheduled to open in Edmonton next year, but that means attendance boundaries must change again, which has parents up in arms.
The Edmonton Public School District revealed proposed attendance zones to take effect for the 2017-2018 school year.
In the booming southside neighbourhood of Creekwood Chappelle, the changes would mean some people next to the new school would be zoned to attend while other nearby students would go to Duggan School, 15 kilometres away.
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Parents began learning about the proposed changes at public information meetings last week.
“People were yelling,” Janice Anderson said. “People were very, very upset.”
She said after the meeting, the neighbourhood’s Facebook page was flooded with hundreds of angry comments.
“It’s just a real disappointment to the residents of Creekwood Chappelle,” Anderson explained. “Most of us…were told, when we bought our homes, that this school would be going in in our community. That’s one of the number one reasons people bought.”
“In both options, the majority of Creekwood Chappelle will be excluded and that is the land on which the school sits,” Anderson said.
If the attendance boundaries remain as they’re set out now, her three-year-old daughter would have to apply to attend the new Chappelle school. If it’s not too full, she could get in. But Anderson worries about what might happen if the school reaches capacity.
“I don’t feel comfortable sending my daughter to a school and then every June, having the anxiety of hearing she might not be able to attend that school next year.”
“I would rather just start off somewhere where I know she can get her education throughout,” Anderson said.
She’s already sent in applications for private school. If those aren’t accepted, Anderson and her husband will consider moving.
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“It makes me really, really sad because I love our house, I love our community and I love our neighbours, but at the end of the day I put my daughter’s education above everything.”
The school board stresses these boundaries are not confirmed.
“There have been no decisions made. We’re taking all the feedback right now,” Chris Wright, managing director of infrastructure for Edmonton Public, said.
Information meetings on the issue were held last week and again this week. There will be one Tuesday evening at Michael Strembitsky School and another Thursday evening at Elizabeth Finch School. Parents can also weigh in by completing an online survey.
“We want to get as many kids close to home as possible,” Wright stressed.
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Chelsie Pul-Agan went to a public information meeting last week to get answers.
“They stated that with all the kids needing this school in Chappelle that one school wouldn’t accommodate every child in here because we’re such a large area… and not wanting to rezone again when the second school is built.”
Pul-Agan also felt the attendance boundaries weren’t clear.
“I thought I wasn’t going to be zoned and I’ll be able to see the school from my backyard,” she explained. Pul-Agan later discovered her home was in the attendance boundary. She’s relieved, but feels for the families that may not be zoned for the new school.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense… how close the kids will be to that school and not zoned for it.”