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Lethbridge parents weary of looming public school boundary changes

Click to play video 'Lethbridge public schools prepare for boundary changes' Lethbridge public schools prepare for boundary changes
The news of proposed boundary changes for Lethbridge public schools is not being well received by some parents. As Emily Olsen reports, school division officials say it’s a necessary and proactive decision to avoid reaching emergency-level overcrowding in classes – Jan 13, 2021

Lethbridge mother of six, Brandi Frohwerk, said the proposed changes to Lethbridge public school boundaries are not being well received among parents. 

“This has to be the worst timing for them to announce all this,” she said Wednesday, adding that families had been through a lot in the past year navigating changes due to COVID-19.

Read more: Alberta school boards appreciate federal funding but some ‘disappointed’ by province’s response

Elementary, middle and high school boundaries are all set to change to reduce class sizes, which will mean many west side students bussing to school across the river.

Frohwerk said her family chose their home based on proximity to preferred schools.

“It just doesn’t make sense for me,” she said. “We’re minutes away [from school], especially straight down our alley here.”
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Along with that, she says her high school-age stepson helps with after school pick-ups for his younger siblings, which won’t be possible if he has to attend a school across the city.

“He picks up our little ones from school close to us,” she said. “So there’s no way he’s going to make it in time.”

Frohwerk says she intends to share her concerns with the Lethbridge School Division.

Read more: Lethbridge left off list of new school projects in Alberta

The biggest changes include all French immersion classes being moved to the south side of the city –with École Agnes Davidson becoming entirely French immersion. 

Elementary, middle and high school boundaries are all set to change to reduce class sizes –especially on the city’s west side– which will mean busing many west side students across the river for school starting in September.

Officials say it’s a proactive approach to ensure students are not uprooted at a future time when class capacities are at emergency levels.

“The board has been advocating for at least five years for another west side school,” superintendent Cheryl Gilmore explained Wednesday.

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“We had Coalbanks Elementary School built, and we were hopeful at that time that would accommodate the growth on the west side, and it hasn’t accommodated the growth.”

She added for special cases, parents can go to the division website to review the “School Choice Policy.”

“The School Choice Policy basically says that if there’s room at another school and if there’s the program at another school, then the parent would fill that out, and request that they go to that school,” Gilmore said.

Read more: New Lethbridge west-side school helping to alleviate enrolment pressure

Frohwerk said she’s still concerned about the mental toll this kind of shift will take on students across the city.

“You can have five counsellors in one school, but it’s not going to cut it when they’re being taken away from their neighbourhood — their school that they’re happy with [and] new friends,” she said.

The Lethbridge School Division feedback loop will be open until Jan. 28.