Rocky View Schools votes down alternative calendar at three schools
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:03 am
After 15 years running on an alternative calendar, parents and students at Ralph McCall School are in for some scheduling changes as Rocky View Schools (RVS) board of trustees voted down the alternative calendar for the 2014 to 2015 school year at the March 20 meeting.
“I’m not arguing (the alternative calendar) hasn’t been successful at Ralph McCall,” said Trustee Fiona Gilbert when she made the motion to direct the school to follow the division-wide calendar approved on March 6.
“I just think now they are no longer in isolation, it is impacting other schools, more buses and more families.”
Ralph McCall has been the only RVS school on the alternative calendar in past years. This is the first year Herons Crossing has been considered for the calendar.
The new middle school C.W. Perry, opening in September, was included in the consideration because many of the students that will occupy that school will be coming from Ralph McCall, as Ralph McCall becomes a kindergarten to Grade 4 facility.
One of the main impacts to the division if the alternative calendar continued and expanded to Herons Crossing School and C.W. Perry, would have included an increased transportation cost of $15,000 to $25,000 depending on the number of buses required for C.W. Perry.
The cost increase would have been the result of starting classes in August instead of in September when the rest of the division starts the new school year.
The board did vote to explore the feasibility of a division-wide alternative calendar in the future.
Parents and Herons Crossing Parent Council members Heather Nikkel and Keith Foord were at the March 20 meeting to share with the board the results of an alternative calendar survey conducted by Herons Crossing and Ralph McCall Parent Councils.
Of the 460 Ralph McCall parents surveyed 84 per cent indicated approval of the alternative calendar continuing at the school.
Parents at Herons Crossing were clearly split on introducing the alternative calendar with 49 per cent of the 174 parents surveyed for the new calendar and 51 per cent against it.
However, the overall results from Ralph McCall, Herons Crossing, Nose Creek Elementary School and Muriel Clayton Middle School indicated 72 per cent of parents in favour of the alternative calendar.
Nikkel, who has two children attending Herons Crossing, said she was disappointed with the decision to eliminate the alternative calendar but optimistic of the board’s decision to explore the viability of it on a division-wide level.
“I know Ralph McCall parents will be disappointed,” she said.
The parent council survey also included results from 106 school staff, which indicated an overwhelming support of the alternative calendar with 95 per cent in favour of it.
“These are the people that are educating our children,” Nikkel said, “and if this is something they’re for, I’m interested in pursuing it.”
Foord, who said he was too emotional to comment after the board made their decision, said in the presentation to the trustees the calendar would allow children to get the best break periods to recharge and come back ready to learn.
“I truly believe this calendar is best for my daughter’s success as well as that of her classmates,” he said.
The parent councils suggested two alternative calendars with both starting classes in August and ending in June.
The main difference between the two alternatives was when in August classes began, the calendar that would have classes begin Aug. 19, had longer break periods in October and May than students on the RVS calendar.
Whereas the option that would have students start classes on Aug. 25, would have a longer break in October than students on the RVS calendar.
Trustee Sylvia Eggerer voted against the motion to eliminate the alternative calendar for the 2014 to 2015 school year, saying she felt the board had asked for parental input on the issue and was now disregarding that input.
However, the other trustees said consistency throughout the division was key.
“We are a school family and should all be following one calendar,” Trustee Norma Lang said.
“It is something we should all be doing or not doing,” Trustee Bev LePeare echoed.
The RVS calendar for 2014 to 2015 is available online at rockyview.ab.ca under the Jurisdiction tab and then under School Calendar.