Larger than anticipated numbers prompt public school move, superintendent says

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By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The moving of Morinville Public School’s Grade 1 to 4 students from the Morinville Community Cultural Centre to Sturgeon School Division offices is due to increased enrolment numbers according to the division’s Superintendent Dr. Michèle Dick.

“We have a few more students than we had registered in the summer time, and we have been monitoring the situation quite carefully because while the cultural centre has been amazing to us, they only have so much they can do because they have to meet the needs of the full community,” Dick said. “We found for our Grade 1 and 2 class, in particular, the space was a bit small, and we were just concerned. We did not want that in any way to impact their learning or their educational experience.”

The superintendent said after discussion with staff, it was decided the division’s board room and Coronado meeting room would provide sufficient space for students. The displaced school board will now meet in the space at the cultural centre previously occupied by the students.

Dick explained the board is cognisant some parents may be concerned about moving their child once again. “We never want to do something that parents don’t feel is in the best interest of their children, and so yesterday [Oct. 11] the principal and teachers phoned and spoke to each parent personally,” she said. “This is one of the things we have been thinking about. What will be the impact on the children? We don’t want children to feel uprooted. We want children to feel happy and safe in their environment. But we balance that as well with what is best environment for them to do their learning. When you have a few more numbers than you had anticipated, you want to make sure that students are not working shoulder to shoulder, that they actually have some space.”

The superintendent said there are currently 26 students attending Morinville Public School for Grades 1 to 4. Another 57 students are enrolled in the early childhood education program at the Parish Hall. Beyond the grades currently being taught in Morinville, Dick said another 74 Morinville residents are enrolled in Sturgeon School Division schools outside Morinville – 32 at Sturgeon Composite High School and 42 at Namao, Sturgeon Heights, Camilla and Guthrie schools. The total number of Morinville students enrolled in SSD schools is 157 students, a number slightly higher than the minimum number of 106 students estimated in a Pivotal Research survey initiated by the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division last June to assess the interest in secular education in Morinville.

Students seem pleased with new facilities

On Oct. 12 Grades 1 to 4 students visited the division’s offices, facilities that will be their school beginning Oct. 17. Dick said the students seemed impressed. “We had a lot of thumbs up from the kids,” she said. “They had an opportunity to see the big field that we have here beside our building because – of course – our building used to be a school.”

While students seem pleased with their new classrooms, Dick said the division is pleased with the efforts of the Community Cultural Centre to assist the public school in its first two months of operation in Morinville.

“I really have to say the cultural centre has been absolutely fantastic,” Dick said. “They have put themselves out for us. They have worked with us. They have done everything that they could to provide us with space.”

But students will make one more move this school year. Modular classrooms are on target to arrive in late December and Dick anticipates students to be in the classrooms by the beginning of 2012. Those modular are to be set up on the grounds of École Georges P. Vanier School where they will be close to the early childhood education students at the Parish Hall. Vanier will give a classroom over to SSD teachers operating in the modular as office and preparation areas.

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3 Comments

  1. My taxes went up over $700 from last year, which is ironically most of my portion of the school levy. Given the money I have to pay, I am quite surprised to see the manner in which non-religious (read public) education students are being shunted around in an attempt to provide public education.

    Can someone in the know, such as the GSACRD superintendant, please tell me if this is what happened when a Catholic program was opened in Stettler? I have heard much discussion about it, but admit that I do not have all the facts and am repeating what I have read in the various opinions/comments on the subject.

    If the answer is no, then why did it have to happen in Morinville? Why is something fair and made to work in one area not applicable in the reverse in another area?

    Speaking with some parents, the teachers in the new program are great and are working hard to provide a good education, but they should be provided with the same access to resources that the Catholic school (read separate) students have. Anything less is discrimination based on religion, which is against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    This program will take time and I only see it growing every year. It is not a matter of what one person told me “there are only 55 kids”, rather it is a matter of providing equal access and opportunity to a non-religous based education. I challenge the government to stop wasting our hard earned money on surveys and take action now.

  2. Do the children that live just outside the boundries in Morinville currently have the option of attending schools in Morinville?

    I don’t know if those numbers were ever factored into the survey that was done. I know it’s currently a totally different situation right now, but one division over in Westlock children that live just outside of Westlock fall within the boundries of the Westlock Schools, instead of Jarvie, Dapp, Clyde, and Busby. Wouldn’t it make sense for the children that live just outside of Morinville in Sturgeon County to be bussed for free to Morinville instead of going to Bon Accord, Namao or Sturgeon Heights?

  3. My son is currently enrolled in G.P. Vanier school. Both my husband and I are not religious; however, we felt that our son would benefit from attending there as we both attended Catholic schools growing up. As of last Thursday, my views have changed. I had a discussion with my son about god. I explained to him that mommy does not believe in god. I explained to him that there are many different religions, and that people believe in many different things. He then proceeded to say that If I diddn’t believe in God, that he would hate me. My jaw dropped!

    I have a HUGE problem with my son coming home and saying this to me. I do believe he was not told in school that if someone didn’t believe in god that they should hate them. But what is he being taught in class? Young children are impressionable, the very fact that my son interpreted what was said into “hate those that don’t believe in god” makes me very sad and angry. I for one, will be switching my son from the Catholic school to the Public school next year. My concern is that eventually the Public school will have a much higher demand for it’s non-faith based education. Are they going to keep on adding portables as the school gets bigger?

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