Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 21, 2009
West end junior high school faces closure
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - With enrollments in steady decline for the past six years, St. Mark's Catholic junior high school is at risk of being closed.
Edmonton Catholic School trustees voted unanimously Dec. 8 to start a consultation process to consider closure of St. Mark's at 11625-135 St.
Parents and other community members in the Woodcroft neighbourhood will be asked for their input in the coming weeks and months.
"This is one of the most difficult decisions the board has to make," said board chair Debbie Engel.
Enrollment at St. Mark's has dropped every year since 2003-04 to 164 students this year. The school has a capacity for 477 students.
Of the current students, 53 are registered in special education programs that draw children from across Edmonton.
With just 111 students in the regular program, the board questions the school's ability to give students a range of options, Engel said. "We feel the students would be better served in an area where they have more options available to them."
The board chair acknowledged it is sad for any community to lose a school but said the Catholic board has to be accountable to the public as well.
"We don't like the idea of closing schools but in any economic times you have to spend public dollars wisely."
St. Mark's principal Bob Krzak said he understands the board's point of view but said parents are very supportive of the school and question whether closing it is a good idea.
"I had a parents' meeting last night (Dec. 10) and they are very strong advocates of the school, very, very positive," Krzak said. "Some parents went to this school (as children) and they are concerned about the community as well as to where their children will go to school."
No decision has been made as to where students would be transferred if the school were to close.
"We don't know for sure if it going to close; it's just the administration suggesting that it may be a good idea to look at it," Engel said.
"The next step is major consultation with all the parents and students and teachers."
The public meetings will likely occur in February. The matter is expected to return to the board in the spring.
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