New elementary attendance boundaries were recently approved by the Red Deer Public School Board.
The recommendation would see the division’s newest school to be located in the Timberlands neighbourhood operate as a dual track program offering both English and French Immersion.
The English program would serve families from the communities of Clearview Extension, Clearview Ridge, College Park, Garden Heights, Timberlands and Timberstone as well as Vanier Woods and Vanier East.
Elementary students in the French Immersion program who reside east of 30th Ave. would also attend the school in Timberlands.
In addition to this, students attending the Gateway Christian Alternative Program would be designated to River Glen School.
Students attending the Spanish Bilingual Program at G.H. Dawe School would be designated to the Pines School.
The recommendation from the district’s Accommodation Committee comes after strong input and involvement from the community, officials said.
Last spring, stakeholders were asked what factors were important in establishing school boundaries. That information was used to develop five potential scenarios that were shared with the community.
Through open houses and extensive online engagement, parents and communities shared their thoughts and priorities on the options available. These perspectives played a key role in shaping the recommendations that were unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.
“We put out five scenarios and we asked for the challenges and benefits of each. We had over 2,000 people respond to us online regarding that,” said Piet Langstraat, superintendent of Red Deer Public Schools.
“In reading all of the feedback there were a few themes. These included that there was support for a dual track concept, neighbourhoods wanted to be kept together – in Vanier Woods and Vanier East for instance, one part of the neighbourhood could have gone to one school and the other portion of the neighbourhood could go to the other school.
“Transportation and the time spent on busses was also a consideration and we looked at what would be least disruptive.”
The changes would take place in September 2014 with the opening of the school in Timberlands.
The school would have an initial capacity of 500 students with the potential to expand to 600 students. The school will also be home to a satellite branch of Red Deer Public Library.
“A big concern of ours is that when we open the Timberlands School we will be full as the neighbourhoods continue to grow,” said Langstraat. “Current data shows that the district will grow by 1,800 students in the next five years. So really, we are an elementary school behind.”
Meanwhile, the Accommodations Committee will continue its work on how to best implement the new boundaries.
This will include guiding principles on bussing, grandfathering provisions as well as plans for welcoming students and families making transitions to new schools.
Further details will be shared in the spring. The Committee will also look at middle and high school boundaries in the near future.
“We are thrilled and excited to have another school east of 30th Ave. It is something that is long overdue,” said Langstraat.