By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Newly-minted Alberta Minister of Education and Athabasca – Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson said he hopes to announce a decision on the Morinville school infrastructure issue around the beginning of June.
Speaking to the Morinville Rotary Club Wednesday morning, Johnson said it was one of the first things on his agenda as Education Minister. Johnson was scheduled to meet with the boards of Sturgeon School Division and Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division later Wednesday to discuss the matter further.
“I’m just getting briefed up on that particular issue now,” Johnson said Wednesday morning. “Those recommendations are on a desk waiting for me in Edmonton.”
Johnson’s predecessor Thomas Lukaszuk had met with Morinville parents in a packed MCHS gymnasium Mar 15. At that time, the then education minister told Morinville News a decision on how the Catholic and public school systems would be accommodated would be made within a matter of days. “I don’t like to sit on decisions,” Lukaszuk said after the Mar.
15 meeting. “I find that if I wait longer I don’t wind up making decisions that are any better. I just wind up frustrating Albertans. I like to make quick decisions but well thought out based on fact.”
What the former education minister and the department have recommended is not certain; however, Johnson said once he had met with the two boards and digested the recommendations; he planned to talk to Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec and St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan as the matter affects their constituents.
The yet to be proclaimed Bill 4 would see the flipping of the Catholic and public designations between GSACRD and St. Albert Protestant and give Sturgeon School Division jurisdiction to operate a public system in Morinville and Legal.
The new Education Minister, who will be in Korea and China from May 18 to 30 as part of the Canadian delegation attending the 5th Education Ministerial Meeting hosted by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), believes he will have answers for Morinville educators and parents by the beginning of next month.
“My hope is June 1st,” Johnson said of when the final infrastructure decision could be made. “We want to do it as soon as possible because we want to give the community certainty, the boards certainty, the parents and the kids. It’s not an easy decision and it’s going to affect everybody one way or another. At the end of the day it’s got to be about opportunities for the kids. That will be the central piece in how I try to make my decision.”