Monday, May 30, 2011

Recap of Meetings

Tonight's meetings of the McKenzie Towne School Council and Parent Association were lively and well attended.  Thank you to all those that came.  Unfortunately, Art Johnston was not able to attend the meeting.  He did forward responses he had received from the Minister of Education, David Hancock's office to some questions we had regarding the capacity issue, which we invite you to read.   In addition, we received a response from the CBE's Superintendent of Facilities & Environmental Services, which you can view by clicking here.  The information we have received poses additional questions and a need for further understanding.  To that end, Mr. Johnston has invited some parents to attend a meeting at his office on Friday June 3rd.  We encourage parents to submit their questions for Mr.  Johnston (see details on left column).  For background information, you can read the earlier post.  We will plan a further communication to parents once that meeting has taken place.

In other business of the Council, Sherri reminded everyone that the executive terms will be up at September's AGM.  If you have an interest in serving in an executive role, please approach Sherri or one of the other members to find out more information.  Mrs. Pollock and Ms. Anderson provided us with an update regarding the grade one and kindergarten classes and Annette shared the Leadership report, including a thoughtful discussion with parents about the values and vision of our school. 

During the Parent Association meeting, a Fun Lunch was announced for June 21st.  Plans include pizza, drink and dessert for a cost of $4/child.  Stay tuned for further details coming soon.  Our casino dates were announced as November 15 and 16th at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino.  We will be looking for volunteers to work shifts over the two days.  More information including volunteer requests will be coming in the near future.  Sean T continues to make progress in terms of the surplus playground funds and hopes to be able to provide another update at the next meeting.

Our next and final meeting of the school year will be on Thursday June 23rd, beginning at 6:30 pm.  We hope to see everyone there.

Reminder - MTSC/MTSPA Meetings

Please join us tonight for the May meetings of the McKenzie Towne School Council and Parent Association.  The Council meeting begins at 6:30 with the Parent Association meeting immediately following.  Our topic of the month is MTS Capacity.  Please read and print the agendas for each meeting here and here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Important Message Re: MTS Capacity

We are writing today to make you aware of a concern that we believe will have a significant impact on the students of MTS.  You may be aware that when McKenzie Towne School was originally built, it was designed for approximately 450 students, with the option of adding an additional 6-8 relocatable classrooms to accommodate up to 650 students in the school.  These capacities were based on 25 students per class.

The school is expecting enrolment of 500 students next year, which is over the 450 that the school was built to accommodate.  However, we have been informed that we will not be receiving relocatables for the foreseeable future.  According to the CBE, due to the school utilization calculation of Alberta Intrastructure, McKenzie Towne School is not yet nearing capacity in terms of student space.  The calculation is based on student enrolment numbers and school square footage, including common areas.  The CBE has recently recalculated our capacity, and based on the utilization calculation, the CBE and the Province rates the school at 607 student capacity before relocatables are added.  You may be wondering how decisions are made regarding relocatables and by whom.  We have learned that the provincial government is responsible for providing relocatables to schools.  The government considers the square footage of a school when determining capacity, while the CBE considers number of classrooms.  Based on this recalculation, we would anticipate an additional 157 students in our school before relocatables would be added.

MTS currently has 18 classrooms.  Next year we anticipate 23 classes, of which 7 are half time Kindergarten classes, resulting in the need for 19.5 classrooms.  So, where will these students learn?  We have been advised that partitions will be added and some of the common areas of the school will be used for classroom space.  This means that the current use of those common areas for educational opportunities will be modified and there may be additional impacts in terms of noise, disruption, space, etc.  In addition, this problem will only continue to increase without the necessary classroom space over the years to come.  Without additional space, there could potentially be 3 teachers and up to 60 students sharing each set of two classrooms in the near future.

Many parents are concerned about the detrimental impact this will have on the students' education.  Appropriate classroom sizes and spaces are a necessary part of a good education.  This is not a budget funding issue.  The capacity utilization formula was in place prior to the school being built.  The school population was predictable and projected and the promise of relocatables to accommodate that population was made in May of 2008.  The CBE has not followed through on this commitment and it is the students that will feel the impact.

If you have concerns, you are encouraged to make your voice heard.  The CBE has a responsibility to plan for the needs of the students and to allow parents to be engaged in this process.  Our area Director, Jane Rogerson can be reached at 403-777-8780 or, Trustee Carol Bazinet can be contacted at 403-294-8241 or  Our MLA, Art Johnston is our representative in the provincial government and can be contacted at (403) 215-4380 or to discuss concerns relating to the utilization calculation itself or potential funding for relocatables for our school.  Mr. Johnston will be attending our next school council meeting on Monday May 30th, where the capacity concern will be our topic of the month.  We encourage you to join us for this important meeting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Higher bus fees rejected by school board - Calgary - CBC News

Public school board trustees have rejected a large increase in school bus fees.
Calgary Board of Education administrators had recommended a 60 per cent fee hike to cover higher costs, but on Tuesday night the public school trustees voted down the proposal.
The recommendation would have cost parents of an elementary or junior high student $33.50 per month, up from $20 to ride the same bus this year. Senior high students wouldn't have seen any change to their monthly bus fees.
Chair Pat Cochrane looked at all the numbers and then shook her head.
"I am not comfortable simply saying to parents you have to pony up a 60 per cent increase in one year. I think we have to have a plan to do it over time."
Added trustee Pamela King: "When we actually are talking about increasing fees and decreasing services, as a parent it frustrates me and as a consumer it frustrates me. I don't think it is acceptable for us to be doing that."
Two of the seven trustees decided to leave the room when the fees were debated, citing conflict of interest reasons.
Parent Larry Leach, who attends most school board meetings, said he was pleased by the rejection of the fee hikes, but he expects parents will pay more for their children's school bus rides in the near future.
Administration will now come up with other options to cover those higher busing costs and the trustees will look at them next month.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Before & After School Care Survey

A survey went home this week to gauge parent interest in a before and after school care program at MTS.  If you did not receive the notice, you can download and print it here.  Details regarding times and cost are on the survey.  Please return the survey to the school or email your response to by May 13th.

Monday, May 2, 2011

March Minutes

The ratified March minutes of the MTSC and MTSPA meetings are now ready.  Minutes of the school council meetings can also be found on the school's website.  Our next meetings are on May 30th.  Stay tuned for more information and the agenda.