After the future of Donalda School was in doubt last spring, school board candidates in Donalda vowed last week to keep the school open.
Incumbent Cheri Neitz and challenger Patricia Standage addressed the school’s future during an all-candidates forum last Thursday night in Donalda.
It was the main message from the two candidates for the local Donalda-Erskine school ward, along with the four candidates for Donalda’s village council.
“I want our Donalda School to stay open,” Standage said. “I want to keep it sustainable and vibrant, and I believe in small public schools.”
Serving on the board for six years, Neitz agreed.
“I have battled for Donalda School and I will stand up to fight for your children and do what is best for them,” she said.
“We (as trustees) represent the whole division and every single school is important to me.”
Both Neitz and Standage are from Erskine.
Enrolment at Donalda School has risen to 59 students from 52 last year in kindergarten to Grade 9.
Responding to questions about ways to increase enrolment, Standage urged council to keep taxes low, while Neitz suggested that the village attract more residents with children and add more businesses, such as a gas station.
Residents also urged the trustee candidates to find ways to keep local K-9 students from leaving to Stettler schools.
“Donalda School needs to stay here,” said Shane Fox, a challenger for council and a father with young children.
“I want to promote young families.”
Two other candidates shared those views about the school’s future.
“One of the most important issues in the village is the school,” said Dan Knudtson, a businessman elected to council last April in a byelection.
“That’s the hub of the community.”
Seeking to return to council, Paul McKay also spoke of the school’s value.
“I believe the school is important to the village and it’s important to fight for,” said McKay, who served on council from 1999 to 2009.
The incumbent mayor said council is connected with the Clearview School Division.
“We have fought, and I feel succeeded, to keep our school and in doing so, have developed a good working relationship with Clearview School Division, which is very critical to the village,” said Bruce Gartside, the mayor for the past three years and a Donalda resident for five years.
“Keeping our school is crucial to our village.”
During discussion, council and trustees invited residents to offer ideas to enhance the school.