Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 10, 1999
Trustees reject plan for shared school facility
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
Edmonton Catholic school trustees believe a Catholic school which shares its library, gym and staff lounge with a public school could lose its Catholic identity.
So the trustees rejected a plan for a new school in south Edmonton which would share those facilities with an adjoining public school.
However, the board will explore other ways to provide a Catholic education for families in the Twin Brooks subdivision. More than 450 public and Catholic students are currently being transported out of the area to attend other schools.
"This board's concern is that we are going to be led to a decision before some kind of discernment of the issues at stake is undertaken," board chair Ron Zapisocki told a board meeting May 3 in Vegreville.
The feasibility study was initiated by the Edmonton public school board and financed from the government's Innovation Fund which supports innovative school facility projects.
The intent was to provide a multi-use facility which would serve both school boards, as well as the Capital Health Authority, Alberta College, Continuing Education and other partners.
Alberta Education will not approve funding for new schools while there is space for students available in school district's existing schools.
But a multi-use facility with a number of partners could qualify for funding through the Innovation Fund.
Edmonton Catholic agreed to participate in the study "on the basis of a model we already know which is proceeding well," superintendent Terry Fortin told the meeting.
That model is the one used by J. Percy Page and Holy Trinity high schools in Mill Woods which share a community recreation complex.
But the study by Ventin Group Ltd., released April 26, proposed a facility which would be more heavily integrated. Areas such as the gymnasium, library and staff lounge would be shared by the Catholic and public school.
"What we originally agreed to was very clear, and this does not come close to what we originally agreed to," Fortin said.
Trustees voiced concern about the effect an integrated school could have on the ability to provide an authentic Catholic education. They want more time to look at other options.
"The discernment process cannot be guided by a short time process," Fortin agreed, adding that the issue affects other Catholic boards across the province.
"The first part of the discernment process is to look at other models and how they would support a Catholic community."
Zapisocki indicated the public board is eager to proceed with a building to open in 2000 and "there is pressure being put on our board to concur with the plan so that the facility can proceed."
Public school board chair George Nicholson was not available for comment.