Two Calgary Catholic schools with continuously low enrolment are again being considered for closure.
St. Angela and St. Gerard schools were previously considered for closure in 2020, but that process was halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) trustees voted in favour of starting the process again because of continued low enrolment.
This year, with online learning included, St. Gerard has 83 students enrolled while St. Angela has 109.
“We like to think a school that is a healthy school has an enrolment of 150 students or more,” said chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas.
“As soon as we dip below the 150 students mark, it requires additional money being invested in the school above and beyond the money that we take in from the provincial government to make it a viable school building.”
He said it “tears his heart apart” to even consider closing schools, but believes students will ultimately benefit.
“If they’re integrated into a bigger school, there will be more opportunity for programming, more opportunity for extracurricular activities — of course, in a world outside of COVID,” he said.
“In bigger schools, you have more staff and, with more staff, you have more clubs and more everything else that’s going on. In a small school, it’s much harder to offer those extra things.”
Trustee Cathie Williams was the only one to vote against re-starting the process.
“I don’t disagree with the process we have in place; what I disagree with is that we’re in an area of flux right now where we really can’t predict what’s going to happen,” she said.
“I understand that we’re in a budget constraint. I understand that we have to make some difficult decisions as we go forward. But in fairness to the communities that we serve, I don’t feel this is the time we should be doing this.”
Community consultation will take place at the end of the month.
Trustees will vote to keep the schools open or to close them for good on March 24.