Red Deer Public School trustee calls for vote on merger

Trustee wants to discuss merging Alberta’s public and Catholic schools

A local school board trustee has joined a growing call to merge Alberta’s public and Catholic school systems.

Dianne Macaulay, Red Deer public school district trustee, put a notice of motion forward at the board’s meeting last week to advocate for a unified public school system.

Former Alberta education minister Dave King, who served in that capacity from 1979 to 1986 and was later the executive director of the public school boards association of Alberta from 1990 to 2010, launched a campaign earlier this year to merge the public and Catholic school systems.

He cited cost savings as a primary motivation.

Macaulay’s motion suggests that “Red Deer Public board of Trustees advocate for a unified Public School system that allows for locally elected school boards to offer Catholic programs as well as other faith and program options.”

The motion put forth by Macaulay on April 12 will be formally voted on by Red Deer public on May 10.

In her motion, Macaulay makes it clear this is the idea of one trustee.

“It is important to note that this initiative does not call for the abolition of Catholic programs in Alberta, but rather contemplates the potential for public school boards to grow and expand faith program offerings,” she wrote. “This is no different than Red Deer Public operating French Immersion programs which do not challenge the existence of the constitutionally protected Francophone School boards. The Red Deer Public School Board supports programs of choice where there is a demand and if anything this would mean more choice, not less!

“While we are engaged in a dialogue on curriculum redesign, maybe it’s time to have a bigger question about program or system redesign.”

After King brought the school system merging discussion forward, Adriana LaGrange, Alberta Catholic School Trustee Association president and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee, posted a lengthy response to the ACSTA’s website touting the “legacy of cost-effective excellence in teaching within a welcoming, safe and caring faith school environment.

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