Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 1999
Red Deer Catholic board shares with public
New Sylvan Lake school is second shared facility by Red Deer Catholic
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools has received approval to build a shared school facility in Sylvan Lake with Chinook's Edge School Division.
It will be the second shared facility built by the Red Deer Catholic board which is bucking the view of other Alberta Catholic school boards which maintain that a school's Catholic identity cannot be preserved in a shared facility.
Red Deer's St. Patrick Community School has been operating on the same site as a public school since 1982. The two schools shared a library until recently when the Catholic school built its own.
"(St. Patrick's) gave us some level of comfort when we went into this," said Gordon Deck, chair of the Red Deer Catholic school board. "We didn't want in any way to lose our Catholic identity.
"It has worked well at St. Patrick's. They have remained two distinct schools."
Deck said the Sylvan Lake facility will likewise be "two different schools in one large building.
"It's like when you go to the mall, it's one building but there are individual stores inside. They're all different stores all in one place.
"We're in one building, but we are completely separate from the (public) school."
Each school will have its own campus with classrooms, staff facilities and administrative offices. They will share a common area which includes a gymnasium, commercial kitchen, library and possibly computer labs.
"The gym is quite big," Deck said. "There's a sliding wall that separates it so that each school will have its own gym everyday.
"The wall opens up if either of the schools need a larger gym for special events. But each school will have its own gym."
The $14-million kindergarten to Grade 9 school is slated to open in Sylvan Lake September 2000. The Town of Sylvan Lake has agreed to buy additional land for the campus and will share the multi-use facility with the schools.
The provincial government is encouraging Catholic and public boards to work together to build joint schools in order to cut costs.
In Saskatchewan, that approach is becoming a trend. Last year, a school in Yorkton opened and was a joint project of the city, and public and separate school boards.
The Catholic school board in Regina is cooperating with the public school board and city in building a $13.4-million joint facility, also scheduled to open in fall 2000.
But in this province, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association has taken a strong stand against sharing of facilities.
"You can't have two different philosophies operating in the same building," ACSTA president Lois Burke-Gaffney told the WCR last month.
Also in May, Edmonton Catholic School Board of Trustees voted against a joint school facility in the Twin Brooks subdivision. More than 450 Catholic students in the area are being transported out of the area to attend other schools.
Like many boards which looked at multi-campus proposals, Edmonton rejected the idea based on concerns of a loss of authentic Catholic education.
"We do not wish to share the educational space," said Ron Zapisocki, board chairman. "We believe the integrity of the Catholic education is not going to be sustained if we do that."
Zapisocki said the proposed Edmonton plan had "too much interference - there was too much overlap of common space."
That plan included sharing a gym and library.
"We do things with respect to our beliefs in every inch of our schools," Zapisocki said. "In public schools they do not permit prayer.
"What about our icons, crucifixes, liturgical celebrations - how do we have all that when we share that space?"
Zapisocki said the board has no plans to pursue the proposal further.