Open Letter to Education Minister Gordon Dirks

Minister of Education, Gordon Dirks

It has been five years since a small group of parents fought for public education in Morinville. Sadly, the ongoing school saga continues with the latest Alberta Education announcement. It was announced that the Catholic school division was granted another school in Morinville. That will make four Catholic schools (two elementary, one middle, one high school) to only one public school (that only goes to Grade 7). Can you see why so many parents are upset when your government announced yet another Catholic school when we still do NOT have a public junior high in town?

When your government made a promise to provide public education to school children in Morinville, why did they exclude junior high/senior high school students? Do they not have a right to public education?

The public school board, Sturgeon School Division’s no.1 priority for several years now is a new public junior high in Morinville. It was included in their capital plan, which has been submitted to Alberta Education. It was recently reported in several media that Sturgeon School Division’s request for a new public junior high in Morinville was denied due to an incomplete application. According to the spokesperson for Alberta Education, SSD’s application did not include information such as school site selection or details of grade configuration. As a result, they were denied the must needed public junior high school.

I was informed by several elected officials that selecting a school site is NOT a requirement when requesting a new school. In fact, the Catholic school board was approved for a new school in Morinville and they still have NOT secured a school site. The mayor has even confirmed no site has been allocated to either school division in Morinville. I’m quite troubled that Alberta Education is not aware of its own application process. In regards to the grade configuration, SSD made it quite clear they are requesting a new junior high school. Are you expecting them to include the number of specific grade levels? That’s completely ridiculous. Schools continuously amend the number of certain grade level classes based on student enrolment changes. In fact, Morinville Public School has recently added a Grade 5/6 class due to high student enrolment.

Also, if there was missing information on the application, why not make a simple phone call to the school division? Rather than clear up any misunderstandings, your government has chosen to neglect Morinville school children once again.

Morinville Public School gained 126 students this fall and projecting another 120 students next year. They went from 92 students to 547 students in four years. While I understand the school division has requested additional modulars for next fall, that is a great short-term fix but far from it being a permanent solution. I know the staff at Morinville Public School are doing everything they can given what they’ve got: housing junior high students in an elementary school building. While I love the staff and teachers at Morinville Public and my children love it there as well, I want proper CTS facilities. Is it fair that these kids do not have such facilities (no shop, no kitchen, no science labs, etc.) but all other junior high schools in Alberta have them?

Isn’t it about time your government fulfill its promise to provide public education K-12 to Morinville children? How much longer do we have to wait?

It’s too late for my son; he will have to be bussed out of town to complete his public education. But what about the 500 plus kids at Morinville Public School? What about future school children? These children deserve to be educated locally especially when the town’s growing population can easily support a public junior high.

Here’s a question: Name a town in Alberta with a population over 5,000 and has no public junior high? NONE – except Morinville.

Morinville has a population of almost 10,000 and still no public junior high.

The time to act is now. No more delay. These school children deserve better, don’t you agree?

Sincerely,
Marjorie Kirsop (mom to 4 children)

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11 Comments

  1. Ok, let me see if I have this straight in my head. Sturgeon School Board applied for a new school but they have now been told the application was incomplete? To me, this means that the school board should simply complete the application to what has been requested of them. If I apply to go to university and do not complete the application to the specifications of the university, should I be upset if my application is denied? I should hope not! I would get my info together and turn it all in. I may have missed early acceptance due to it, but I shouldn’t start blaming all the other prospective students who got accepted. That is what I am feeling is happening right now.

    Have you checked the utilization rate of Morinville Public compared to the other 22 schools that were offered a new school? I was under the impression that this was one of the key factors. Perhaps I am wrong? Does anyone have the info on % of utilization for the Public School? I am sure this needed to be added to the application. I would love to see how this compared to the other schools that have been offered throughout Alberta.

    • How do you explain the fact the the Catholic SB also did not include a site plan yet has purportedly been granted a new school?

      • Do you have a copy of the GSACRD application? I would love to see both or them! I would also love to see the other 21 that were approved. I would like to see what the response was for this section from all the school boards that applied.

  2. The issue is that while one governing body says that the application was incomplete, others say that all necessary information was included. There is certainly no blame being directed at the other school division, just comparing the application process. If they haven’t secured a site, then that is not something that should be required on any other application.

    At this time, there cannot be any utilization numbers for junior/senior high school because we don’t actually have a junior or senior high in town.

  3. Complete/incomplete application, need a site/don’t need a site – it’s all political rumour and a We said/They said argument from both sides of the discussion. Whatever went on, I can promise you that we lay people will never learn the truth because it is highly likely that no one knows it all for certain. Government decisions at all levels are often like that. My experience has been that when a political decision such as this occurs and it is not justified or explained very well, people will either extrapolate what seems like reasonable answers from the thin reasoning presented or simply make it up. Since the initial public vs catholic school discussion started a few years ago, we have seen much of this on both sides.

    I said a while back that this argument would rear its ugly head again once the children in the new public school made their way through the grades and were looking for a middle and high school to go to. It’s sad to see that I wasn’t proven wrong. Thanks, Marjorie, for picking up this fight once again. I wish you success in what should have been a no-brainer decision for the province.

  4. I’m tired of this crap, these people think only of themselves and not the majority. We saw an ENTIRE school displaced for 97 students. It was a full french immersion program. YOU DEPRIVED THOSE CHILDREN WITHOUT A CARE FOR ANYTHING BUT YOUR SELFISH THOUGHTS.

  5. They have an option. Its at MCHS. I’m not catholic and my 3 children received an eduction there. If you don’t appreciate what is in your community search out another one which meets your needs. You have a school available yet you choose not to send your children there. You’ve wasted enough of our tax dollars with this issue. I was angry to see a valuable program lost, a few hundred students displaced all because of a small group who were so self absorbed that they couldn’t see past there noses.

  6. Generally, the majority must be more than half. According to the federal census in 2011, it was less than 30% of Morinville residents that identified as Catholic. Also, nobody is trying to take anything away from anyone. Nobody took a school for 97 kids, the government assigned a school to provide public education and it is now full. Bottom line is that Morinville needs more schools, and just maybe, a couple of them should be public.

  7. Firstly, it is the law, the Constitution & the original agreement made upon which Catholic schools even exist that for there to be a “Separate” school in a community, there must FIRST be a Public school.

    So, unless those that already have their unfair & disproportionate privilege in place cooperate, I would suggest simply asking for the law to be adhered to and transfer both High Schools back to being PUBLIC schools as they were and should be.

    And for those remarkably concerned about the waste of tax dollars in pursuing the Rights of the non-religious for secular Public schooling I would point out that operating a duplicate Separate school system to teach the same curriculum with zero educational advantage wastes around two hundred million dollars a year – and so if one was to be really concerned about wasting tax dollars one might suggest disestablishing the Separate school system altogether.

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