We have asked nicely, we have begged and we have pleaded for new schools in Airdrie but the ministers just doesn’t seem to be getting it.
With responses like, “Regarding your renewed request to arrange a meeting between me and representatives of the Council of School Councils, I feel it would be of greater benefit for your organization to continue to work with Rocky View School Division,” (in the last letter from the Province to the Airdrie Council of School Councils signed by Minister of Education Dave Hancock, Premier Ed Stelmach, Minister of Finance and Enterprise Ted Morton and Minister of Infrastructure Ray Danyluk), it is clear we are just not getting through.
The Airdrie Council of School Councils was created to help the Rocky View Schools division bring the concerns of overcrowding in Airdrie to the attention of the provincial government because the school boards’ voice was apparently falling on deaf ears and massive budget cuts have left the board unable to contribute. On June 24, the Council organized a city-wide forum and invited Hancock, Morton, Danyluk, Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson and Stelmach to hear citizens’ concerns about the school crisis.
Since the last new public school was approved for Airdrie in 2003, the city has grown by more than 16,000. There are 5,500 additional housing units approved for the City of Airdrie. This fall, there were 387 new students registered in Airdrie. In the next three years, we will have more than 1,700 students with no place in our schools.
What was the Province’s response to the meeting in June?
“Airdrie schools ...received 24 new modular classrooms over the past four years, adding capacity for 600 students.”
Almost 40 per cent of Airdrie students are educated in portables. We do not have enough core space to accommodate more portables. It is easy to read these statistics on a page and ignore them, but the students who live in crowded situations and learn in closets are sacrificing quality education because of the lack of space.
These conditions spurred Grade 8 student Leah Moore to start a petition, asking residents to sign their names and show the government their opposition to the space crunch.
On Nov. 8, this petition will be at A.E. Bowers Elementary School for anyone who is affected by the school crisis in Airdrie to sign. On Nov. 16, Moore will personally take her petition to the Legislature in Edmonton and present it to Anderson.
If the statistics and outcry from local parents, politians and trustees is not getting through to the Province, maybe the hard work and dedication of one girl to make a difference in her own education will.