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Public education redefined for Morinville, Legal and St. Albert areas

Parents and students in Morinville will have access to public education similar to that offered elsewhere across the province next September, if changes outlined in new legislation are passed by the Alberta legislature. 

Boundaries of school divisions will change, designations for public and separate school boards will switch, and arrangements will be made for a permanent site for public education in the community.

“Students were already receiving a quality education in Morinville schools,” said Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. “This decision means that they will also be in an environment where they feel most comfortable, and their parents will have a voice in their education.”

The current education system in the Sturgeon Valley area is unique. When school boards in Morinville, Legal and St. Albert were established, the majority of the population was of the Roman Catholic faith and their schools became the “public” system. Elsewhere in the province, Roman Catholic residents were in the minority, and their schools became the “separate” system.  A number of Morinville parents wished to opt out of religious instruction as is common throughout the province.

The Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division, St. Albert Protestant Separate School District and Sturgeon School Division were asked by government to develop a solution that accommodated parents’ rights to choice and representation by a trustee, maintained both a public and a separate education, and continued to meet Alberta’s high educational standards.

“I am so pleased that school boards collaborated to identify a solution,” said Lukaszuk, “and I am pleased to introduce legislation that implements many elements of their preferred option.” In short, an existing public school board will expand to cover areas around St. Albert, a new regional separate school board will offer a Roman Catholic education in and beyond St. Albert, and a new school board will offer public education in St. Albert.

New legislation, introduced as Bill 4, the St. Albert and Sturgeon Valley School Districts Establishment Act, outlines the new local education system.

The Sturgeon School Division, an existing public school division operating around St. Albert, will expand. “We are pleased with this solution, and we will work with the separate school board, the Town, and community members to ensure a smooth transition to a designated public school in Morinville,” said Terry Jewell, trustee and chair of the division. “Sturgeon School Division has a long and respected reputation in Sturgeon County and we are looking forward to moving into our new school and serving the families and children of Morinville and Legal.”

A new separate school board, “Greater St. Albert Roman Catholic Separate School District”, will serve those communities previously served by The Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division, and will also see the addition of Cardiff Roman Catholic Separate School District and Cunningham Roman Catholic Separate School District (two non-operating boards in the area). The new board, made up of the existing eligible trustees of Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division, will now operate a Roman Catholic separate school district. This board will operate like any other separate school board in the province. “We are pleased that our work in finding a local solution is reflected in this legislation, and that a change in our division status means that we will continue to provide Catholic education in St. Albert, Morinville and Legal. As a top-performing division in the region, our families can expect to receive the same high-quality education they currently experience. As always, we will continue to welcome families of all faiths,” said Lauri-Ann Turnbull, a trustee from Morinville ward and chair of the division.

St. Albert Protestant Separate School District is a separate board currently serving St. Albert. Because there cannot be two separate (minority) school boards serving the same area, an additional change is required. St. Albert Protestant will be dissolved and a new public school board, “St. Albert Public School District,” will be created.  The new school board will be made up of the existing eligible trustees of St. Albert Protestant, and will continue to operate all of the existing St. Albert Protestant schools within its existing boundaries of the City of St. Albert. The new school board will operate like any other public school board in the province.  

Arrangements are being worked on to ensure that a permanent school site will be up and running for September 2012. Ownership of an educational site in Morinville will be re-assigned to Sturgeon School Division, although determinations of the school or shared space arrangements have not yet been made.

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Media inquiries may be directed to:

Janice Schroeder
Communications
Alberta Education
780-427-5423
janice.schroeder@gov.ab.ca

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.

Backgrounder

February 22, 2012

Current Boundaries

Future Boundaries

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Media inquiries may be directed to:

Janice Schroeder
Communications
Alberta Education
780-427-5423
janice.schroeder@gov.ab.ca

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.