Frustrated Calgary parents say government playground grant should apply to all new schools

Frustrated Calgary parents say government playground grant should apply to all new schools
WATCH: A lot of disappointed parents are voicing their concerns over a provincial government announcement they feel was misleading. The ministry of education announced a $20-million program for funding new playgrounds at new schools. But as Jill Croteau reports, a growing list aren’t eligible.

The soccer goal posts are the only thing students at a southeast Calgary school have to play on.

The Prince of Peace Catholic School opened last year and still doesn’t have a playground. Parents say their children are now missing out on a fundamental part of their educational experience.

Caroline Thiessen has three children attending the school.

“I think it’s sad and a shame. It’s not fair,” Thiessen said.

“We have almost 900 kids here that are wandering around. Some just don’t know what to do.”

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Last June, the province of Alberta announced new schools would be eligible to receive grants up to $250,000 for a playground.

READ MORE: Alberta directs $20M over 4 years for new school playgrounds

The government said they recognized the fundraising burdens for families and said this program would save families millions.

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But many are discovering they aren’t eligible.

Parent Jamie Ostby felt let down.

“It’s heartbreaking; our kids are being left out,” Ostby said. “Because we were announced in November versus January, we aren’t part of that decision. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Part of the fine print in the announcement is that only schools announced after January 2014 are eligible.

So many schools, regardless of when they opened, don’t apply.

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Education said the funding has limits and they had to make difficult choices.

Trevor Wall, a father of a Grade 2 student attending Copperfield School, said the students have to walk almost a block for recess to play at a nearby community park.

“Every day the teachers come out and put their safety vests on and are marching 30 kids across the street from the school over here to play,” Wall said.

School councils will have to fundraise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for a playground.

Many said that will take years and it’s likely the students going there now will grow out of the school before it’s built.

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