Open house to provide info on proposed grade changes

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Responding to pressures on school capacity by continued growth, the Calgary Catholic School Division (CCSD) is planning to make some changes to grade configurations at Airdrie’s three Catholic schools, according to Karen Ryhorchuk, CCSD senior communications specialist.

“St. Martin de Porres will be designated a grade 8 to 12 school,” Ryhorchuk said. “Good Shepherd and Our Lady Queen of Peace will be designated as kindergarten to Grade 7 schools. That’s going to begin in August of 2017.”

Our Lady Queen of Peace School has a current enrolment of 917, Good Shepherd School has a current enrolment of 760 students and St. Martin de Porres – which is currently a Grade 9 to 12 school – has an enrolment of 490. All three schools have more than 100 per cent utilization rates. A utilization rate of 85 per cent is considered high by the provincial government.

“Overcrowding is not necessarily optimal for student learning,” Ryhorchuk said. “We want to make sure we have optimal student learning happening in those places and we don’t have overcrowding and we can accommodate those students.”

The decision to reconfigure the grade distribution at the schools was made as part of CCSD’s Help Plan our Future program, according to Ryhorchuk.

“Essentially what we do as a district every year – part of our annual planning process – is to revisit programs, their location, school enrolment numbers, boundaries,” she said. “What this does is really focus on the changing needs of students. One of the highest areas of growth is Airdrie for us.”

The CCSD held a meeting Feb. 2 to ask parents for their recommendations regarding how to deal with the crowding crunch.

“Out of that meeting our senior administration, along with taking into consideration (what parents said), made that decision to designate St. Martin de Porres as a Grade 8 to 12 because there was room in that school to be able to handle additional students, without placing any burden on that school,” Ryhorchuk said.

The CCSD is holding a second meeting March 22 at St. Martin de Porres to help parents and students understand the decision being made.

“The March 22 meeting is going to provide information to parents with respect to implementation of this decision,” Ryhorchuk said. “It’s going to cover things like transition planning, transportation, program accommodation and any other areas of interest or concern for parents or students who are impacted by this decision.”

Ryhorchuk said CCSD has two schools within its capital plan for Airdrie – an elementary school to be built in the southwest and a junior and senior high school to be built in the northwest. The build dates for those schools have not yet been determined, but Ryhorchuk said the elementary school is the division’s top priority.

All parents and students currently enrolled in Airdrie’s Catholic schools are invited to attend the March 22 meeting, which gets underway at 7 p.m.

More information about the CCSD Help Plan our Future program is available at cssd.ab.ca/Parents/HelpPlanOurFuture/Pages/default.aspx.

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