Two Calgary Catholic elementary schools will close this year due to low enrolment

Calgary Catholic School District trustees have voted to close St. Angela and St Gerard elementary schools at the end of the school year because of continued low enrolment. 

The decision was made at Wednesday’s public board meeting. St. Angela School, in Bridgeland, and St. Gerard School, in Haysboro, were previously considered for closure in 2020 but that process was halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year, with online learning included, St. Gerard has 83 students enrolled while St. Angela has 109. 

When the board began the closure process in January, chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas said the district considered a “healthy” school to have an enrolment of 150 students or more.

“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. 

Since beginning the closure process again in January, the CCSD said it held public meetings in February and a number of written submissions were collected from community members.

Decision ‘significantly impacting’ lives

Board chair Mary Martin said these types of closures are the hardest decisions for trustees, “because we know that we are significantly impacting the lives of the students.

“That said, I can say with confidence after 14 years as a trustee … that it’s been my experience 100 per cent of the time that these families will immediately be worked with and welcomed into new schools,” she added.

Martin said when the district prepares its budget it engages with the community and the results of that process helped guide this decision.

“Overwhelmingly, the wish was to keep the funds to the greatest extent possible in the classrooms and employing teachers,” she said. “The top two choices or the top two indicators for our public was to look at operationally small schools and also transportation fees.”

Martin said there are three different school options for students from both schools.  St. Angela students will be able to attend either St. Alphonsus, St. Monica or St. Joseph, and St. Gerard students will be able to attend either St. Matthew, St. Cecilia or St. Theresa.

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