Public and Catholic francophone school boards merge into one
The public and Catholic Francophone school boards in southern Alberta have amalgamated to become the Southern Francophone Education Region Number 4.
The new board will represent public and separate boards in Airdrie, Brooks, Calgary, Cochrane, Lethbridge, Okotoks and Medicine Hat but will not effect schools under the Rocky View Schools Division.
“We consulted our Francophone community and from that input, we put forward a proposal to the minister for amalgamation. We’re very pleased that Minister Johnson is enabling our local decision. This will help us streamline processes to ensure we are providing the best possible education for our students,” said Diane Boutin, board chair for the new school board.
She added because the two former boards shared a central office since 2011, the impact for students has already occurred.
“As an interim step we went to joint administration (when we went to a central office) where we were able to get rid of duplicity and were able to get more specialized positions,” Boutin said.
As the two boards pooled resources and changed from two separate administrations, to a single combined central office for administration, more resources can be allocated to students, explains Alberta Education Communications Samantha Georgsen.
She said an example of these specialized positions is a guidance counsellor.
Prior to the two boards working together in the central office, not all of the junior and senior high schools in the district had a guidance counsellor. By eliminating duplicate positions, the boards were able to hire these counsellors for all the junior and senior high schools in the district.
She said the new board will allow better services for all students because more resources can now be directed to where they will most impact students..
“This is really not going to be a whole big change (for students),” Boutin said.
“Our vision for education through Inspiring Education is all about putting students first and I am thrilled to support these school boards working together to do just that. I know the new board will be more efficient, improve services and strengthen Francophone communities in southern Alberta,” said Minister of Education Jeff Johnson.
“In terms of Catholic or public, (the schools) will remain the same depending on what they’ve already been,” Boutin said.
Until October when an elector will choose trustees, Johnson has appointed three separate and three public trustees to act in the interim.
The blended board will have equal numbers of Catholic and public trustees in the future.
Boutin said blended boards aren’t a good idea for all division but is a good francophone solution because it will help grow the francophone community.