Public school boundaries to change

The Red Deer Public School District is one step closer to changing school boundaries in anticipation of the Timberlands school opening in two years.

The Red Deer Public School District is one step closer to changing school boundaries in anticipation of the Timberlands school opening in two years.

This week, the district wrapped up its series of initial public consultations at G.H. Dawe Community School.

About 33 people, including staff and parents, shared their thoughts on what they would like to see happen and made inquiries about transitional plans.

“The group was more interested in what the plans are for kids that were moving from one boundary to another,” said board chairman Lawrence Lee. “I think they really recognize the transition needs to happen because we are in such a growth spurt.”

Lee said the district projects significant increases in the student population, particularly in the elementary grades, in the coming years. As of September 2011, the elementary school enrolment was 4,281. By September 2014, enrolment in elementary grades is expected to increase to 4,584. In 2019, the district’s elementary school population is projected to be at 5,068.

When open in the 2014-2015 school year, the Timberlands school will meet much of the elementary school growth.

The kindergarten to Grade 5 school will be on the east end of Timothy Drive, north of 61st Street and east of 30th Avenue.

The first two public meetings held at Hunting Hills High School and Mountview Elementary School drew about 45 people from the community.

At the Mountview meeting, the possibility of introducing a single-track French immersion program in the division was considered. Currently there are dual-track French immersion programs at Oriole Park Elementary and Mountview, where both French and English are offered.

Lee said it’s important to hear from the public to ensure the best impact on programs and transportation before adjusting the boundaries.

Now the district administration team will take the feedback from the three meetings and work on a plan for boundary recommendations, potential program changes and transitional suggestions.

The tentative plan will be presented to the board of trustees in the fall of 2013. Lee said they would then go back to the public in either focus groups or public consultations for more input.

Once the second round of consultations is completed, the board will fine tune the plan before adopting it in its 2014-2015 capital plan.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com