Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 25, 2006
Beaumont votes for new school
Catholic residents favour separate school district
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Within two to three years Catholic students in this fast-growing bilingual town of 9,000 people, just south of Edmonton, may start attending their own Catholic school.
Vote 2 to 1
That's because Catholic residents here voted 318-152 in favour of creating a separate school district Sept. 14.
The new school district will become part of the Leduc-based St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Separate Regional School Division, which serves about 2,500 students across west central Alberta in the communities of Drayton Valley, Lacombe, Leduc, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.
"We are very, very excited. This is something that the residents of Beaumont have wanted for a long time and we simply helped them (achieve it)," said St. Thomas Aquinas superintendent Jamie McNamara.
"They wanted the opportunity to have their children educated in a Catholic Christ-centred environment and they are now going to have that opportunity."
The district will now apply for provincial funding to build a kindergarten to Grade 9 school. "We have to get approval for a school and then build it, so it'll be a number of years," the superintendent noted. "I'm hoping three years."
A total of 483 out of 1,709 eligible voters turned up to cast a ballot. A minimum of 428 voters was required to have a quorum and declare the vote valid.
"People that supported forming a Catholic district are very, very excited and people who were opposed are very respectful of the democratic process," noted McNamara.
Right now most Catholic children attend public schools operated by the Black Gold School District, which offers religion classes for Catholic students whose parents request it.
In some cases parents drive their children to Edmonton to attend Catholic or other Christian schools, McNamara said.