Attempt to disband school site committee stalls
Council will wait for report before considering changes to allocation agreement
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am
The City of St. Albert will not be terminating its school site allocation agreement with the three local school boards.
Coun. Sheena Hughes brought a motion to council on Monday to have the current agreement terminated as of Aug. 31, 2014.
The motion was ultimately defeated in a 4-3 vote. Hughes, Coun. Cam MacKay and Coun. Wes Brodhead voted for the motion, with the majority of council voting against it.
Hughes said her intent was not to leave the city without a school site allocation agreement permanently, but to allow council and staff to renegotiate based on the findings of a report on the committee process due out later this year.
“I thought that council should have a say in the direction it’s taking,” she said, noting if the city doesn’t pull out of the current agreement before the beginning of April it stands for another year.
“It’s going to be a year and a half before that change takes effect,” Hughes said.
Mayor Nolan Crouse disagreed with a comment from MacKay that the committee doesn’t properly represent the public.
“I believe the superintendents of schools and the city manager do represent the public,” Crouse said, noting they all report to elected officials.
Coun. Cathy Heron said that Coun. Tim Osborne’s previous motion to have a report on the process brought back needs to return before making a decision.
“This is not a pressing issue,” Heron said. “We’re not going to be getting new funding for a school in the next nine months.”
Coun. Gilles Prefontaine was concerned with the change to Hughes’ motion, which dropped a requirement for a new agreement to be drafted for council’s approval by Aug. 31.
“The wide-openness is something that could be interpreted by our school board partners differently, it could be interpreted by the public in a variety of ways,” Prefontaine said, adding while he believes improvements could be made in the process, he doesn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Brodhead said he’d support the motion because he didn’t believe there was much risk in it, he said it was to make a statement on behalf of council that the process they recently went through with the Eldorado Park site was not the process they would have liked to have seen.
“I suspect we’re going to have time to draft an agreement,” he said.
Hughes concluded debate by pointing out there would be a few months between giving termination notice and the current agreement concluding to negotiate a new agreement, but the majority of council was not swayed.
“While I do have concerns about the current process it seems premature to me,” said Osborne. “I fear that what it would do is take away some of those options. I think we need to work with our partners collaboratively.”