The Rocky View School (RVS) Board of Trustees voted to reconstruct the grade structure of Chestermere schools during the May 2 RVS Board meeting.
Effective Sept. 1, Prairie Waters Elementary School, Rainbow Creek Elementary School, and East Lake School will be kindergarten to grade six, Chestermere Lake Middle School will be grade seven to nine, with French Immersion programs continuing at East Lake School, and Chestermere Lake Middle School.
“As trustees and the public are well aware, Chestermere continues to feel student accommodation pressure,” said RVS Superintendent Greg Luterbach.
Currently, the four Chestermere schools have an 85 to 95 per cent utilization rate, Luterbach added. Specifically, East Lake School which is facing the most growth, and will be overcapacity in September.
“Chestermere is growing at about 250 students per year,” Luterbach said.
RVS engaged with parents through a variety of events, online and through conversations to find out what would be the best solution for Chestermere families.
“The recommendation was based on the messaging the board heard from parents and the community,” Luterbach said.
A significant concern for parents was keeping their young children close to their homes and keeping their children with their peer groups.
“We knew some change was going to have to happen, there is a desire to not be back in the same situation in two years,” Luterbach said.
The RVS Director of Facility Planning Colette Winter said the RVS Board will be working as hard as they can to get a school built within the next five years.
“For the next five years, we can make it work. After that I think we’re going to have even more serious challenges,” Winter said.
RVS Ward 1 Trustee Shali Baziuk said changing the grade structure of Chestermere schools was a difficult decision to make, and there isn’t a solution that would please everyone.
“It’s not something we want to do, but the best we can do is make the best decision for students,” Baziuk said.
“Changes like this are necessary, Chestermere is growing, and I hope our new provincial government considers that before they tackle any other aspect of education.
“We first need to make sure students have a place to be educated in. We need schools. Everything else will come second,” she said.
Although coming to this decision was challenging, RVS Ward 3 Trustee Todd Brand appreciated the engagement from Chestermere parents.
“The majority of people who wrote in were very clear they were trying to give input that reflected what was best for the community, not just what was best for their family,” Brand said.
He added, although changing the grade structure of the schools isn’t an ideal situation, this is the best long-term solution.
“We’re looking at decisions that we wish we didn’t have to make, this is being driven by the need for change,” Brand said.