Clearview hears rally to keep schools open

Schools play a key role in communities and parents and residents want Clearview School Division to enhance local public schools.

Schools play a key role in communities and parents and residents want Clearview School Division to enhance local public schools.

That’s the main message parents and community partners are stating at a series of community consultation forums hosted by Clearview division this month as it prepares to develop a new strategic plan for the future.

“We don’t plan to close any schools,” said Ken Checkel who chairs the board, as he responded to a question from County of Stettler Reeve Earl Marshall at the meeting in Stettler on Nov .9.

“We want to see them all stay open but never say never,” said Checkel, considering funding cutbacks from the provincial government which faces a massive deficit.

Questions to trustees concluded the evening with further consultations scheduled for Nov. 12 in Donalda, Nov. 16 in Castor, Nov. 17 in Brownfield, Nov. 18 in Coronation before finishing on Nov. 19 in Erskine.

“We want to give our school communities an opportunity to provide comments to trustees about their school and what are the vital components of education for children in their community,” said Checkel.

For more information, phone the school division office at 403-742-3331.

After the consultation series, Clearview plans to provide comments and themes in a report as the board prepares to develop a new strategic plan next spring.

With $567,606 clawed away from the Clearview School Division for this year and a potential $1.5 million cut next year, trustees will discuss their concerns on Nov. 24 with Drumheller-Stettler MLA Jack Hayden and Battle River – Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths.

Checkel and Superintendent John Bailey will then participate in a meeting with Education Minister Dave Hancock on Nov. 25 with all board chairs and superintendents in the province.

“Within the next month, we hope to know where we’re going, “said Checkel.

Trustees encourage parents and residents to lobby their MLAs, Education Minister and Premier Ed Stelmach.

“It’s up to us to let government know about our concerns,” said Checkel.

“Make sure you do respond to your MLA,” said Trustee Patty Dittrick who recently became president of the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta for a two-year term.

“It’s important we are proactive, not reactive – we have to speak,” she said, noting that personal letters are more effective than petitions.

To provide more information on the issue, Dittrick referred participants and all interested community members to website as one resource.

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