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  • Letter to Parents of East Lake School

    ATTN: All Parents of East Lake School (French and English):
    I am writing to everyone to provide you with the consolidated facts that I have gathered after speaking to numerous government officials, staff, parents, teachers, and others. It is imperative that you write a letter on the need for proper growth of East Lake School (modulars needed) by END OF THIS WEEK as it appears critical decisions are being made at this very moment. As a community, we will be affected negatively if parents do not provide letters voicing there concern. By investing time now and writing a letter, you will save time in the future trying to seek alternate solutions next year. Also, if any of you have additional information that you think can help our case to get portables for our school please post the information immediately

    CURRENT OPERATIONS IN EAST LAKE SCHOOL
    -East Lake School received 16 classrooms instead of 20 requested. 4 portables were requested in spring 2013, this was rejected.
    -East Lake School started Sep 2014 at overcapacity with currently 3 grades in the library (gr 4 FI, gr 5/6 FI), the resource room (Gr 3 FI) and the home ec room (2 classes of gr 7), 3 grades at overcapacity (grade 5, 6, 5/6 split English), project room (2 classes gr 8 English). No books are available for the FI or English students due to no library and no space for 2014/2015
    -East Lake school is built for 500 (current build) with possibility for 16 portables to be added on which would give it a max capacity of 900. Note: This is assuming that each room would be a teaching space. Ie. science/drama/arts/music/etc. are all considered classrooms or teaching spaces.
    -East Lake incorporates Kinniburgh and surrounding, French immersion, English, and rural areas.
    -According to Rockyview schools statistics we are currently running at 12% overcapacity. I believe this no. is underestimated as we already started with 4 less teaching rooms than required at the start. Since this statistic was released there has been further enrollment.
    -We are operating currently at 558 full time equivalent students. Note: full time equivalent means kindergarten X 2 kids = 1 full time equivalent. We were predicted to have 400 for Sep 2014.
    -East Lake has been zoned in an area of massive construction. This means the growth rate is exponential for this school in particular. This is a unique situation compared to most other schools.
    -East lake is the most overcapacity school in Chestermere and the newest. No other new schools have been approved yet.
    -In late summer 2014, 70 more kids enrolled to East Lake school.
    -Public schools cannot refuse a child zoned in that area to enroll, no matter what the headcount is or how much over capacity the school is.
    -Parents are unhappy with current setup and staff is overworked and dealing with issues they should not have to focus on. This is diverting them from doing the job they are paid for, teaching our kids
    – staff at East Lake cannot teach our children effectively in an overcrowded school and not be provided the correct resources.
    -P3 school build – when issues arise minimum 6 – 8 week turnaround for resolution – Principal addresses to Rockyview – escalates to Alberta infrastructure – escalates to builder – escalates to manager of building – issue begins to get attention.
    POPULATION OF CHESTERMERE AND GROWTH
    -The proposed 2400 Waterbridge development was approved in March 2014 for Chestermere by town council which will quadruple the town’s population. This plans to increase the town to 46,000 new residents and will expand  Chestermere into Calgary’s city limit.
    -Edgewater (in Kinniburgh school zone) will increase by another 7000.
    -East Acres (Kinniburgh school zone) will increase. No.’s TBA
    -Conrich will increase to another 7000 in the next 5-10 years.
    -The town of Chestermere has been voted in by local council this week to now be a city, necessary because of the town’s booming population.
    -The population of Chestermere was just over 1,000 people in 1993, in 2012 there were about 16,000 people and with the Waterbridge Development the population is expected to quadruple.
    -conservatively speaking Chestermere is estimated to be increasing by 25000 more in 5 years.
    -The increase in population for the past 2 years for Chestermere has been exponential.
    -Chestermere is the fastest growing town in Canada; it is literally exploding.
    -Langdon is the fastest growing postal code in Canada, which also falls into zone of East Lake for French Immersion
    -Chestermere has shared a border with Calgary since 2009. The rest of Chestermere’s borders are shared with Rocky View with it’s southern border being Township Road 240.
    -Schools in Chestermere fall under the Rocky View School Division No. 41 or Rocky View Schools which is the public school authority that serves Rocky View County in the province of Alberta

    GENERAL FACTS
    -Alberta Education builds schools to have classrooms be viewed as all teaching spaces. Therefore if they build a school with 16 classrooms – that includes all auxiliary and tech spaces. Ie. Drama, music, resource, science, hom ec, arts, etc. are all considered a classroom. For a school to be considered at 100% capacity each of these rooms would have to be utilized as a classroom/teaching space.
    -Rezoning for East Lake School is not being considered at this point. It is too complex to rezone. Current zoning of rural, French immersion, Kinniburgh (new area) and surroundings results in an area unique to all areas of Chestermere with extreme growth.
    -120 modulars were built for Alberta School Boards for June 2014. 40-50 modular classrooms are still sitting in a Crossfield-area construction yard (Rockyview!!) for months due to permit/installation delays. School sites are begging for them such as ours.
    -Alberta Government announced this week they are building starter schools, 4 already approved in Calgary.
    – Portables take 8-9 months for installation from beginning to end. If identified as being urgent, portables could take less time such as 5-6 months.
    -In 2013 Alberta Education passed on responsibility of installation of each modular (approx cost of $200,000 per modular) to be partially funded by the divisional regions ie. Rockyview Schools Division must pay the first $50,000 for each modular. Rockyview School Division does not have the funding for this.
    -Our school was built as a P3 model. This has since then proven to be an ineffective and problematic way to build schools and has been dropped by the Alberta Government.
    -Not enough schools Canada wide. Province has been negligent over the years to build enough schools and it will now take years to catch up.
    – the definition of a classroom/teaching space is no longer what it used to be. A classroom now being the art, drama, music, cafeteria, gym, hallway, should not be considered a classroom. logical. This leaves the province with overcrowded schools right from the opening. No ability for children to learn in a ‘hallway’ or ‘gym’, etc. and classes combined illogically auxiliary and tech spaces and recreational spaces, even hallways to be used as classrooms.
    -Scoring grades for students of Alberta are dropping severely compared to other provinces.
    -Parents are already pulling their children from East Lake School, English and French immersion, due to the issues at hand. The issues are a result of staff being given an overcrowded school in their very first year of operations. This results in burnout and attrition of staff.
    -We as parents raised the funds to install a playground for this school, costs not put to Alberta at all. We even installed it ourselves. All this done through our own volunteer work in less than 6 months. We are not permitted to raise money for the portables and we need them yesterday.
    -This month has been changing weekly with government. Our education minister has been changed from Jeff Johnson to Gordon Dirks. Our premiere has changed recently to Jim Prentice. At times of change, a lot will be going on to win elections and sway public opinion. this week parents of East Lake School need to speak up we will be listened to greatly at this moment. -We need a new school to be started now let alone the 16 portables to be added onto East Lake. By the time that it will be built we will be overcapacity for that new one as well.

    PREDICTION FOR 2015/2016 SCHOOL YEAR
    -Divisional planning of Rockyview predicts 9% growth per year. This was a guestimate and based on information that is currently out of date. This equals 678 expected students for 2015/2016 and761 students for 2016/2017 year.
    -French immersion is at risk of dying if attrition begins. French immersion was greatly affected on space restrictions and I am already aware of children being pulled out.
    -Many parents in the initial stages were promised that French immersion will go to the full years in Chestermere. That is impossible for Rockyview to uphold if headcount is low, the numbers and economics will not justify a teacher to be staffed and put on payroll for low headcount.
    -Grade 9 english classes (1 or even 2 classes) will be added onto next year. The current grade 5/6 english split will become individual classes for next year. A grade 7 for FI will be added (as FI currently goes to grade 6). An additional grade 3 FI class added as grade 2 FI currently has 2 classrooms and grade 3 has 1. That is five more classrooms without any population growth for 2015/2016 being added to the equation.
    REQUIREMENT
    -Growth rate of 9% and class prediction of 761 is grossly underestimated for 2015. Estimation is unknown, but given the current growth in Chestermere, full capacity requirement of 900 (16 modulars needed) by end of the 2015/2016 class year.
    – A request for all modulars is needed. If we ask for 16 modulars, might get 8? Our maximum modular request is 16 as this school will be at maximum occupancy by 2016. Rarely do you get what you ask for so even if it was a high request it is justifiable.
    -The 16 modulars need to all be installed at one time to be economically viable. This is a cost effective way to put them on instead of doing it in two or three stages. That is wasted money for Rockyview School Division and Alberta Education. The school has been designed to take on 16 modulars which is less costly than other schools not designed for it. .
    -The modulars are ready and waiting in Rockyview with no home to go to. Again this saves time to obtain the current portables that are already constructed and trying to find a place to go to.
    -The cost of installation needs to be fully paid for by Alberta Education. Although the first $50,000 of each portable has been passed to the responsibility of Rockyview, they do not have the funds to install them. If the approval goes through and Rockyview foots the bill, we will be at a standstill yet again.
    -Growth rates that were calculated in the past are not valid. Current changes and above facts prove why our growth rate will far surpass what the divisional planning of Rockyview estimates.
    -The need for expansion is not just for 2015/2016 school year, the need is immediate, 2014/2015 school year, based on the emerging needs of September enrollment. The school was not approved for the 4 modulars required for this year and we are and will be growing in a tremendous fashion throughout this school year.
    -a need for a new school to be approved and started is now. A request for a ‘starter’ school is justified for Chestermere.
    WHAT PARENTS NEED TO DO:
    -Write a letter knowing the above information and from your own personal experience.
    • Explain what your concern is and focus on the need for portables and why for East Lake School .
    • Why do you feel the school is currently not operating effectively and is overcapacity.
    • What do you think is needed for 2015.
    • What reasons do you have based on what you know for East Lake being at the top of the priority list out of all the schools in Alberta (many are in the same situation).
    • You should include some of the above data when writing your letter.
    • Personalize it to your own family and express the importance of it. ie. did you move to chestermere for the French Immersion or for the new school?
    • How many kids do you have at this school, etc.

    -Email the letter to the following people (Note: only BCC myself or send me a separate email, do not put me on this email) :
    a) TO: Gordon Dirks – Education Minister of Alberta – education.minister@gov.ab.ca
    b) TO: Jim Prentice – Premier of Alberta – premier@gov.ab.ca
    c) CC: Don Hoium – Superintendent of Rockyview schools – dhoium@rockyview.ab.ca
    d) CC: Murray Besenski – Associate Superintendent of Rockyview schools – mbesenski@rockyview.ab.ca
    e) CC: Bev Lapear – Trustee for Rockyview Schools – blapeare@rockyview.ab.ca
    f) CC: Bruce McAllister – Wildrose MLA for Chestermere/Rockyview bruce.mcallister@wildrose.ca

    -This month has been changing weekly with government. Our education minister of Jeff Johnson is now Gordon Dirks. Our premiere has changed recently to Jim Prentice. At times of change, a lot will be going on to win by-elections which are approaching immediately and education is on the top hit list. It is highlighted in the media and this is the window of opportunity to make this happen
    -Write by end of this week as many crucial decisions are being made beginning of next week. If we don’t, we will miss this window of opportunity.
    -Throwing a rock in the water will only make a ripple if done by Rockyview Div and other government officials. If East Lake Parents throw a rock it will make a huge splash.
    -Alberta Education puts a large amount of weight on parent complaints. A petition gets frowned upon as it is seen as a lazy way for parents to make an effort. Each individualized letter means parents are concerned enough that they took time out of their busy schedules to write a letter with their own justifications.
    -Post on facebook or email me at ninabruchet@telus.net that you have written a letter as I want to tally how many were sent out . Note: I am overseas as of next week, returning end of October therefore I will not be communicating whilst away. I will respond upon my return at the end of October.
    -We need to be top on the priority list for Alberta. If letters are written by numerous parents, we will be looked at. Expecting school staff, our Mayor, MLA, and Rockyview Schoolboard to make this change is a naive and impracticle way of looking at it in our current model.
    -The government has in place rules and requirements and shortcomings across the board. Most schools are slipping through the cracks because of this. This is why we are forced to actively make an effort to ensure our children have a classroom and a teacher for today and for the future.
    -The problem lies all across Alberta and the ones that are getting results are the parents that are speaking out.
    -If we are proactive about this, we can successfully eliminate the obstacles for the 2014/15 school year and most definitely 2015/2016. If we all sit back and expect others to do it, we will have a huge problem. I am sure you are watching this problem city wide, Provincial wide, Canada wide. If we are to continue having our kids in the public school system, what can we do to ensure that our school, that affects you and I directly, is able to provide the standard of education our children require and deserve. The more parents speak up, and we have a great group, the more effective we will be. A letter from me alone will not be enough for Rockyview Schoolboard to push forward the needs of East Lake School to the Provincial Government.
    -I am a mother of two children at this school; I cannot fix the problem for all of us. I have spent hours and hours on this over the past month. You can now make the change by taking an hour out of your week and write an educated letter and send to the relevant people. I do not have a way of contacting all parents of East Lake School and ask each and every one of you to notify your friends of this request and letter. Please forward to anyone you can.

    -REMEMBER IF WE DON’T DO THIS AS A MASS, WE WILL NOT BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST AND WILL HAVE A DISASTROUS 2015/2016 YEAR.
    • NO TEACHER OR PRINCIPAL OR STAFF CAN WORK EFFECTIVELY IN A SEVERELY OVERCROWDED SCHOOL.
    • QUALITY TEACHERS WILL LEAVE.
    • OUR KIDS WILL GET A POOR EDUCATION.
    • WE WILL BE FACED WITH ABANDONING THIS SCHOOL AND INCURRING LONG COMMUTES INTO CALGARY AND FACE HUGE COSTS PER FAMILY (PRIVATE SCHOOLS) AND LOST HOURS PER DAY (COMMUTE, TUTORING, ETC) TO GET A DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR CHILDREN.
    • THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO WORK WITHIN AND AROUND THE SYSTEM TO CREATE POSITIVE RESULTS.
    • I KNOW WE CAN DO IT!

    Please take time out of your busy schedules and sit down and write this letter. I want to thank you all in advance for reading this and now get writing!!!

    Nina Bruchet,
    Mother of Sienna Bruchet Grade 1 French Immersion and Charlise Bruchet Grade 3 French Immersion.
    ninabruchet@telus.net cell 403 620 0732
    Oct 1/2014