Benalto parents thrilled with county plan to buy school

Benalto residents trying to save their school are happy and relieved Red Deer County has stepped up to buy the building.

Benalto residents trying to save their school are happy and relieved Red Deer County has stepped up to buy the building.

“Awesome. We were thrilled,” said Carol Rambaut, who is among a group of dedicated present and former school parents trying to keep the kindergarten to Grade 6 school open.

“It just makes sense to keep the building itself in the community,” she said. The county already runs a play group out of the school and the Boys and Girls Club was planning to use the facility this fall.

Parents have applied to the province to operate the school as a charter school, which is a school run by a non-profit group, funded by the province and following the Alberta curriculum. A decision is expected from Alberta Education in around a month.

Whether that succeeds or not, the county’s move to buy the school from Chinook’s Edge School Division means a valued facility will remain, she said.

Mayor Jim Wood and county councillors made it clear on Tuesday they wanted to ensure the school building and its playground, which was recently upgraded, remain available for residents.

The county has voiced its support for keeping a school in the community and see a charter school as among options worth considering.

Rambaut said the county’s support is welcomed by the community.

“It just feels so good that everybody is working together, for what seems to be the right end result,” she said.

If the county had shown no interest in the building, the school division could have put it out to tender for other buyers.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com