Morinville to get secular school system
| Posted: Monday, Jun 06, 2011 07:50 pm
Students in Morinville can attend non-faith-based school beginning Sept. 1 through a new partnership with Sturgeon School Division and the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division (GSACRD).
“I am pleased to announce a new partnership with Sturgeon School Division,” said GSACRD Superintendent David Keohane Thursday night at a meeting held at Morinville High School.
The announcement followed a two-pronged survey conducted in May by Pivotal Research Inc. The researchers phoned parents, whose children attend GSACRD schools in Morinville. They also conducted supplementary research by phoning random Morinville homes.
The purpose of the survey was to find out how many Morinville students would attend a non-faith-based education program and what level of support there would be among Morinville residents for that system.
The survey results show that more than one-third of Morinville residents (37 per cent) are in favour of secular education for their children.
“We estimate that a minimum of 106 children and perhaps as high as an [estimated] 272 children would attend a non-faith-based school,” explained Greg Hutchinson, research manager for Pivotal Research. “Our best estimate is that 272 students would attend a non-faith-based school system.”
The difference in the two numbers was based on the two different survey groups. In the parent survey of students presently registered in GSACRD schools, only 106 children would register in a secular school.
The community survey showed 272 would prefer to register in a secular school. Of those, 167 would attend elementary school, 67 would be junior-high school aged and the remaining 38 would be in high school.
“The reality for GSCARD would be six per cent fewer students,” said Keohane.
A registration and information session will be held June 14 in the Morinville Rendezvous Centre. Sturgeon School Division Chairman Terry Jewell stressed it’s important for all interested students to register quickly so an accurate count can be made and plans developed.
“The reality is that there is choice in Morinville today. This is a local solution developed by two locally elected school boards,” he said.
Parents in attendance at the meeting June 2 were concerned about where their tax dollars would be used, but Jewell explained that all school taxes in Alberta are directed to the Ministry of Education and then redirected according to the number of students in attendance at each school.
Sturgeon School Division is looking at different building and transportation options for the new secular system.
“I can’t tell you where the schools are yet but I can confirm there will be schooling in Morinville and Alberta Infrastructure is considering options. It depends on the numbers of students. If there are only two kids in Grade 12, they would likely attend Sturgeon Composite,” Jewell said.
One suggestion would be that a number of modular buildings would be set up behind the Sturgeon School Division offices or perhaps by the old Parish Hall.
“It will be depend on the numbers,” said Jewell.
But parent Heather Scrimshaw expressed disappointment at this decision.
“I don’t want my kids to go to school in a trailer,” she said. “I want them to have a school with a gym, just like other kids.”
Questions were raised about how the new school system will be advertised.
“It is not our work to provide advertising,” Keohane said, but Michele Dick, Superintendent of Schools for Sturgeon School Division said a number of advertising solutions will be utilized, including on the division website and in newspaper advertising.
Chris Stamhuis, who presently has two children attending elementary school in Morinville, said it’s important to him to know where the school will be located because transportation is a problem for his family.
“I want a secular education system for my children. But if it’s not in walking distance or there is no transportation, then it would not be an option for my family,” he said.