ATHABASCA – The recent proposal to create a separate school district in Athabasca concerns me as a community member and as a parent to young children.
Resourcing a Catholic school district would require splitting public funds to support two systems, resulting in reduced basic services and quality programming for all children. The process to enable this to occur is concerning as it allows a small number of self-identified eligible voters to make a decision that will impact the broader community now and into the future.
The short and long term negative impacts for all may include but are not limited to: multiple grade classes; reduction or elimination of non core programming; reduced scheduling flexibility for students; bussing and transportation issues; reduced offering of school sports programming and teams; and reduced access to specialized health services such as speech and mental health supports. These impacts may be further exacerbated by provincial budget reductions and reduced services that impact how education, health and child supports are delivered.
As a community, we need to have a better understanding of the concerns of the proponents. This includes understanding if there are short and long term options that were considered and discussed with Aspen View School Division and the religious organizations prior to proposing a separate school district. This is necessary to inform the broader community and in turn would provide an opportunity to work together to identify workable solutions while avoiding the negative impacts of splintering resources.
The Athabasca community is better together when we use critical education resources wisely in a way that benefits all children who live, play and learn together.