Protestant board right to be wary of new legislation

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It may interest the residents of Morinville and St. Albert that the switch of designations for the Catholic school board and the St. Albert Protestant school board goes a lot further back than they have been led to believe.

The facts of the matter are that the Catholic school division has been lobbying for a change in designation going back to when I was an elected Protestant trustee from 1998 to 2004. They asked the district to exchange designations but were turned down. The reason being was that the Protestant board knew that they were protected from being amalgamated with another district by the ‘separate’ designation.

Prior history, going back 40 years, was that the Protestant board had asked the Catholic public district to switch designation but were turned down. At that time, the allocation of funds was determined by the question on your municipal tax form as to which school district you supported. A greater percentage of people moving into St. Albert were non-Catholics but did not understand that the Catholic district was the public district and therefore marked the form accordingly.

Because of this misunderstanding the Catholic district was receiving the bulk of the education taxes. They were reluctant to give up this cash cow. The rules have changed and now the money goes with the student.

I am glad that I now live in a province that has the public school as the main district designation. If you wish your children to attend a “school of choice” be it religious, military, sport etc., you pay for the privilege. As one of the Catholic trustees said to me: “Irene, I couldn’t believe that when we moved here from B.C. I didn’t have to pay for my children to go to a Catholic school.”

I think, as Canadians, we believe in freedom of choice, but I believe that a person’s taxes should go to support their particular choice and not be included to support others.

The Protestant school district is right to be wary of this legislation. Beware down the road.

Irene Harvey, Sidney, B.C.

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