Did you know in Edmonton there is a Catholic school operating inside a wing of a Public School?
Re: Catholic Trustees "demand respect" ahead of shared bus deal with public board (link)
I was disappointed to learn through the media that ECSD are not proceeding to advance the ESTA partnership, which would save both districts millions of dollars, increase efficiencies, buffer parents against school fees, and most importantly, create shorter ride times for children.
Both Catholic and Public administrations recommended the partnership and you can read the recomendation report here.
It’s frustrating that without the cost savings from ESTA, parent fees could increase for both Public and Catholic families to compensate for the shortfall in transportation dollars.
Ironically, the attempts to “demand respect” by the Catholic trustees by stalling sharing, may end up backfiring entirely and expediting the wholesale elimination of separate Catholic and public school boards. The recently released UCP Policy document floats the idea of smashing school boards. These developments may well have the unintended consequence of strengthening the UCP case, or those arguments put forward by David King and the OurIDEA movement petitioning to for a referendum to abolish separate Catholic school boards altogether.
The status quo is unsustainable. Too many buses belching too much exhaust wasting precious parent dollars, idling in traffic while the children’s minds sit idle instead of learning. Personally, I remain optimistic, that we can disagree without being disagreeable, and can get all students riding together on our shared bus.
Sharing busing is not the beginning of the end. Many Catholic and public boards share buses such as Black Gold and STAR Catholic in other parts of Alberta.
In case it still needs restating: I’m not advocating for the elimination of Catholic education, but small changes to the operations of systems that could result in educational improvements for students first, and the reduction of unnecessary costs for all taxpayers.
As you can see by our unanimous vote at the board, Edmonton Public Trustees continue to seek partnerships.
Duplicate bus systems are merely the most egregious example of unnecessary separate Catholic school board operations. The other obvious redundancy and unnecessary inefficiency are aspects of the construction and operation of standalone school facilities.
While for over 20 years, Beaumont has demonstrated that public schools can offer Catholic education without the need for a Catholic school board, closer to home, EPSB Kensington school has provided a model for a ECSD Catholic school operating within a public school. This could be the future of school construction in Alberta, right under the tip of our nose in the Minister of Education’s own riding!
Could Kensington/St. Edmund be a model for Alberta, where all new schools are public and then "wings" are distributed to Catholic students based on need?
This could save hundreds of millions of dollars in facilities costs every year across Alberta. In the meantime, we owe it for children and taxpayers to get it right by eliminating waste that stem from a lack of cooperation between Catholic and Public boards.
Edmonton Public is a ready and willing partner.
At the next board meeting, I will be requesting the following information:
Request For Information:
Could the administration provide a report on the school rental arrangement at Kensington school, and if there have been any challenges or benefits reported with regard to our tenant, Edmonton Catholic Schools.