Timberlands school boundaries approved
By TYLER DAWSON
Red Deer Public School District trustees have approved the zoning boundaries for the new elementary school in Timberlands.
The dual track English and French immersion school is scheduled to open in September 2014.
The English program is zoned for students from Clearview Extension, Clearview Ridge, College Park, Garden Heights, Timberlands, Timberstone, Vanier Woods and Vanier East. Students in French immersion who live east of 30th Avenue will also attend the new school.
Additionally, the board decided at its meeting on Wednesday that students in the Gateway Christian alternative program will attend River Glen School. Students in the Spanish bilingual program at G.H. Dawe School will attend the Pines School.
“These things are complex and I’m pleased with the scenario the board has chosen,” said Piet Langstraat, superintendent of schools.
He said more than 10 per cent of students in Red Deer Public schools are in French immersion, and that the community is in favour of the dual track program.
“We went through an extensive public consultation process,” Langstraat said. Five scenarios were presented to the public for comment, one of which was the dual track plan. More than 2,000 people responded to an online engagement strategy by the school district.
“When we looked at the feedback we received throughout, it all was going double track,” Langstraat said.
School board chairman Lawrence Lee echoed this sentiment. He said the board “didn’t want to stifle the growth” of French immersion programs in the city.
This zoning decision is the “least disruptive” to the system as a whole, Lee said.
Langstraat said that it was difficult to judge the number of students that would be affected by the boundary changes, particularly because of home construction in the area.
However, Lee said that sentiment has been nothing but positive in terms of opening a potential additional 600 elementary school spaces.
The school, which has not been named yet, is capable of taking 500 students and could be expanded for 600.
“It won’t be entirely full when it opens, but it will be substantially full,” Langstraat said, estimating the school will open with about 400 students.
The school district is still looking into matters such as busing and welcome strategies for incoming students and their families.