Submitted by Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division

Morinville – Beginning September, 2011, Sturgeon School Division will be the service provider for secular
education in Morinville, AB. Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, the Catholic Public School
Division in the Town of Morinville, provides the following background regarding the
development of this program:

  • As has been expressed by 94% of those recently surveyed regarding the establishment
    of this program, the lengthy history and effectiveness of Catholic education has and
    should continue to serve the Community of Morinville in a manner that does not
    impact existing programs promised to students within our schools.
  • We recognize that parental choice for education should be freely chosen. For this
    reason we have offered accessibility for the secular program within the Town, to the
    Community Hall and to modular classrooms that will be positioned next to Georges P.
    Vanier Elementary School. Final placement of the modular classrooms will be at the
    discretion of Alberta Infrastructure. Sturgeon School Division will develop the secular
    education programs from these stand-alone sites.
  • The establishment and development of the new program is taking place in exactly the
    same manner that programs new to communities in this province as offered by
    Francophone, Catholic, or Charter Schools evolve. In all of the previous examples,
    space is always provided according to expressed interest for the program as
    determined by enrollments.
  • We expect that through the excellent efforts of Sturgeon School Division, the program
    will evolve as has normally occurred for new educational programs offered elsewhere
    in the province. Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board will concurrently engage in
    immediate planning with the Government of Alberta so that in the future, sufficient
    classroom space will be provided in a manner that does not impact our ability to
    provide a faith based program that enables educational excellence to continue in a
    manner that parents appreciate and expect.
  • Since a goal of a Catholic School system is to further growth and expression of
    Christian values and teachings at every relationship between students and staff, a
    program that does not share in this belief cannot be blended within our existing
    learning environments. This explains the need to develop the growth of secular
    education in an environment that completely separates existing faith based programs,
    from education that is free from religious expression. This helps to explain a
    fundamental condition that the Board will place upon the accessibility of program space with Alberta Education for the future.

“We are extremely pleased that within such a short timeline we are now able to help parents receive an educational alternative that they prefer for their children,” states Board Chair LauriĀ”-Ann Turnbull. “We are always interested in ensuring that the common good is respected through all that we do. For this reason, we thank the Town of Morinville for being patient with the development of this opportunity that can now naturally develop in serving this outcome in the years to come.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. 94% of respondants are satisfied with greater St. Albert? Wow! So much for overwhelming demand for secular education (not that we didn’t know that already).

  2. It is pretty clear to me that if you are not catholic, you are a second tier citizen in Morinville and Legal. Sending your kids to a community hall for school? GSACRD will do anything they can to sabatoge a successful public school program. They should be turning the keys over to one of these schools. Alberta taxpayers funded these schools, not the vatican! Why public money is used to prop up one specific religion in Alberta is beyond me.

  3. Just so everyone is clear. That 94% that GSACRD keeps using includes every single child whose family did not complete a Pivitol Research survey. 1161 surveys were sent out. 334 came back (28% response rate). 827 families did not complete the survey. GSACRD assumes that they are satisfied. Of the 334 families that completed surveys and returned them 106 children would be enrolled in a secular option, 427 would enroll in GSACRD schools and 56 would choose other options. So, if we spin the numbers the other direction it appears that only 25% (427 out of 1700) of Morinville’s students plan on attending GSACRD schools this fall and therefore 75% are dissatisfied with GSACRD schools.

    (http://www.gsacrd.ab.ca/images/documents/pdf/secular-school/report%20for%20public%20release.pdf)

    In any event a regular public school IS coming to Morinville. That is no longer at issue. In the words of David Keohane (Superintendent of GSACRD) when the shoe was on the other foot and he was establishing a Catholic school district in Stettler, AB in 2001 (population 5000 at that time) “Whenever you start a new Catholic school in the community, you get some people feeling that you are dividing the educational community by establishing two school (systems) and splitting up resources,” said Keohane. “We believe that by exercising our right to a Catholic education we are providing choice and choice is a good thing.” Keohane also believes the project is actually an economic opportunity for Stettler in that “we will encourage more parents to relocate (to Stettler) because they know there is a Catholic school there.”

    They had 45 students register and the Minister of Education gave them a whole school. The school was being used by the public school division, a seniors community group and an adult learning program.

  4. Yes Rod, let’s give them Notre Dame. Each student can occupy a class room and then vanier can have 80 or so to a class. Think next time before you write. And propping up a single religion? I know a 30 sec spiel at the start of class is detremental to socity, but deal with it.

  5. So something is finally happening….

    I agree with Rod’s post that secular students are being treated like second class citizens. As Jennifer pointed out, what rationale can the Superintendent use that would make the situation in Stettler fair and the one in Morinville “equitable”? Nothing will be said because there is no good reason.

    I am happy that this is going forward, but am disgusted in the unfair manner that the GSACRD has chosen to implement the decision. I would love to hear the reason as to why a school – or at least part of a school – couldn’t be provided. I’m sure that the Superintendent would say that why should the Catholic program be interrupted for the secular? How is this situation not the reverse of what happened in Stettler? Jennifer’s post hits the target dead centre when she identified the manipulation of the data. Numbers can say whatever a good spindoctor wants them to say.

    I’m not sure what is the most polite term to call this whole mess, but I do know that I don’t want to step in it.

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