A delegation of parents concerned about the lack of secular education in Morinville took the issue to town council last week, but received only a polite audience.
The group was led by Donna Hunter, a Morinville mother who has pushed Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools to offer some form of secular education.
The board oversees all four of the town's schools and all feature a Catholic education, though students can opt-out of religious instruction.
Hunter's demands have been turned down by the school board, however she has filed an appeal with the education minister.
Hunter took the fight to town council on Feb. 22, where she said the lack of educational options is hurting Morinville.
When more parents discover there is only a Catholic division in the community they will move elsewhere, leading to lower resale prices for homes and damaging the local economy, she said.
After listening to her presentation, councillors thanked Hunter for her input, but asked no questions and offered no support for her cause.
Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said the issue is simply not within the town's purview and there was no need for council to explore further.
"It is just absolutely not our sphere or jurisdiction. It is between the minister or the Government of Alberta and the school board," he said. "It is just beyond anything we can do anything about."
Bertschi said he has seen no indication the town is any worse off because of the school situation, noting they had more housing starts last year than even St. Albert.
"We have had about 800 [housing] starts over the last five years in town, so we are obviously doing something right."
Coun. Gordon Boddez, who works as a real estate agent, said he has rarely if ever, heard any concerns about schooling options when selling a home.
"I would say minimally. We very seldom hear that is a concern to people at all, either on sale or on purchase," he said. "It is something that is not prevalent."
Boddez also said it would be inappropriate for the town to butt in.
"The school districts are going to have to resolve this, he said. "It would be like a school board trying to weigh in on something that is town oriented."
Hunter said she was disappointed by the lack of response, but was not surprised.
"I was, as I usually am, disappointed by the response. If this isn't a town issue what is it?"
She said she understands town council has no control over the situation, but still believes they should engage in the debate. She took the issue to town council in part to create a record so when the issue arises again, no future council can claim they were unaware.
"I understand that they don't control the school board, but they certainly have a vested interest in the future of the town."
Hunter said her group has appealed the school board's decision not to offer a secular education to the education minister and is awaiting his response.
She said new residents are going to expect a public secular education simply as a matter of course. Many who move to town don't realize there are no secular options, she said.
If the appeal of the school board's decision is unsuccessful then Hunter said they will have to consider a human rights complaint or some other form of legal challenge, but she hopes it doesn't come to that.