The Foothills School Division Board of Trustees has approved the proposed changes to their attendance boundary for the 2019 school year.
The proposed boundary has been fairly controversial, especially since the first proposal was approved and made available to the public in December. The boundary change faced a long review process, starting in February of 2018, and included a consultation meeting this past January, in which local parents were able to speak directly with the Board of Trustees to voice any concerns and suggest alternatives.
Parents in the Cimarron area whose children would be moved from Westmount to Big Rock under the new attendance boundary seemed to be the most vocal regarding the proposed change. In the January meeting, they were concerned that the FSD had contradicted their own criteria, which cited walkability playing into the redrawn boundary, but would also have certain students attending a school farther away than their current one.
Joy Grills, a local mother who started a petition opposing the proposed change and participated in the January consultation meeting says the feedback doesn't seem to have been taken into consideration.
"Right from the beginning, the parents have been very vocal about this proposal. We showed up to the January meeting, we posted about 100 comments on the Foothills School Division page, we had 196 signatures on my petition, a lot of people were calling and emailing the school. It's very shocking, it just doesn't seem like they considered our voice and our opinions on it. I think they made the decision well before they put this out for the parents to discuss. That's just the way I'm feeling right now."
Parents do have an option if they'd like to send their kids to a school that falls outside their designated boundary, in the form of an application to be submitted no later than March 31st. Grills says this too is insufficient.
"We have to provide a medical, psychological or educational rationale with attached letters of support form trained professionals, which I'm assuming are doctors, in less than 23 days. Some specialists take 6 months to a year to get in and see. To me this feels like the board is trying to limit parents again."
She says the issue is to be far from over for many parents, who feel slighted by the unchanged boundary, and don't plan to stop rallying against it.
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