Last week’s Rocky View Weekly included a story about Ton van Arendonk’s presentation to the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees, proposing the relocation of Kathyrn School to Irricana. Listening to the presentation, our newsroom agreed with many of the points van Arendonk put forward.
We do not know how feasible van Arendonk’s request to RVS is, or how much it would cost. But on paper at least, it seems like a great idea. Having a school in Irricana would benefit the community immensely.
Irricana has a population of more than 1,100 people, according to the 2016 census, but does not currently have a school of its own. Public school students in Irricana travel either 11 kilometres north to attend Beiseker Community School or 19 kilometres south to attend Kathyrn School. (Catholic school students travel 33 kilometres west, to Airdrie). RVS would likely save money on transportation costs in the long run, if Irricana had its own public school.
A local school would also provide a hub for community events in Irricana and complement other existing amenities in town, including a horse-riding school, a recreation centre and community centre. The students would have access to high-speed internet, a medical clinic and a range of local businesses nearby.
Kathyrn School does not offer the same advantages. It is located in a rural area just west of Keoma off of Highway 566 and is right across the street from a Canadian Pacific Rail line. During his presentation to RVS, van Arendonk brought up the safety concerns of having Kathyrn School students partake in their recess and lunch breaks so close to a rail line.
Yet another reason to justify the relocation of Kathyrn School is that it is currently one of RVS’ least attended schools, operating at just a 52 per cent utilization rate in 2019. That year, RVS’ director of facility planning Colette Winter said its enrolment is not expected to increase unless changes to the school's catchment boundaries and grade structures are made.