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Calgary Board of Education looks for parent input as city high schools face overcapacity concerns

WATCH: The Calgary Board of Education is asking parents for their input on Calgary high schools that are either over-capacity or underutilized. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the CBE is launching its largest ever public engagement session on Tuesday.

Joane Cardinal-Schubert High School in the southeast community of  Seton in Calgary is only a year old and already, it’s overcapacity.

The same goes for Ernest Manning High School which was opened eight years ago.

But some inner-city schools like James Fowler are underutilized. The Calgary Board of Education plans to ask parents about capacity issues as the board starts its largest-ever public engagement process on high schools on Tuesday.

Parents will be asked about what they value most when it comes to actions that could be taken.

They’ll include changing designated school boundaries and the possibility of contracting some programs.

“For instance, we have an IB program in a high school. Should we consider limiting the number of students who have placements in those IB programs?” CBE director of planning and transportation Carrie Edwards said.

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READ MORE: Crowded classrooms a growing concern for Calgary school boards

An over-capacity school can mean students don’t get the options classes they want because they’re full.

Students at underutilized schools may be out of luck because there are not enough kids to offer a program.

“It’s definitely a concern not having an equal balance amongst high schools,” said Bob Cocking, President of Calgary Public Teachers ATA Local 38.

According to the CBE website, within the next five years, projections show that 10 CBE high schools will be operating between 100 and 150 per cent of their capacity, while seven high schools will be operating between 50 and 85 per cent of their capacity.

Only three high ​schools are projected to be within the balanced utilization range (85-100 per cent) that best supports student learning.​

READ MORE: ‘37 is too many’: Calgary mother angered over child’s classroom size

Some interim decisions like boundary redesignations could be coming to the most crowded schools before the final decisions are announced at the end of the consultation process in 2021.

The CBE said there are no plans to close any high schools.

“We need every possible space that we have in our high schools into the future,” Edwards said. “We are so pleased to have over 2,000 stakeholders coming out to our in-person sessions to provide their feedback on the scenarios.”

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“While we appreciate that some of those sessions are near capacity and it is unfortunate that some will be full but there is still space available in some,” Edwards said.

She said the CBE is encouraging participation in the online survey that will launch on Sept. 30.