Back to school for flood-weary High River, Calgary families

After a hard summer in High River as the town recovered from June's flooding, families welcomed the sound of school bells Tuesday morning.

Some portable classrooms for flood-damaged schools still not ready for students

Students flooded out of their school in Calgary reconnect on the first day back this fall. 2:34

After a hard summer in High River as the town recovered from June’s flooding, families welcomed the sound of school bells Tuesday morning.  

As Fay Haines walked her daughter towards Joe Clark School, she told CBC News that after a summer of pumping water, ripping out drywall and rebuilding, today has been a long time coming.

"I didn't get to see my kids all summer — they were with my family in Lloydminster, while we were trying to fix the house up," she said.

"But we're back together and things are on their way to being normal, so it's good."

Her daughter Haylie was all smiles as she walked up the front steps to find her friends and classroom.

"Getting a teacher that's the same teacher my brother and sister had."

According to parent Michelle Parker, the whole family benefits as school resumes.  

"It's a relief just because it's the structure and routine and we've really been needing that. It's been a lot of dis-regulation this summer, so it's nice to be back to normal," she said.

Many students in the Catholic system will have to wait until next week for class to begin. The dozens of portable classrooms, brought in to replace damaged schools, are not yet installed.

Back to school in Calgary 

It’s also back to school for Calgary public school students who were flooded out at the end of last year.

Elbow Park School students will be taught for now Eugene Coste School in Haysboro, which had been closed by the board.

Modular classrooms were supposed to be set up at a school closer to Elbow Park, but the manufacturer didn't get them ready in time.    

Anka Bonyai, who has children in Grades 2 and 5, is trying to keep a positive attitude.

"I feel like our political side let us down in a way I was expecting them to be done by now but they were not," she said.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson said this old school in Haysboro will suffice work until the 12 portables are ready.

"It's a matter of weeks before we have them on site here at Earl Grey and I think by the end of the month we should be looking good for getting parents moved over at the timeline that works for them and works for the CBE and the students."

Calls for an end to school fees

Alberta opposition parties are calling on the provincial government to eliminate school fees, but Premier Alison Redford says the government is not contemplating such a move.

The Alberta Liberals say education should be properly funded and fees eliminated. The Wildrose party agrees that mandatory school fees should be scrapped and in the meantime, argues that some flood-affected families in High River should not have to pay full fees.

Redford said Tuesday it’s not fair to pick and choose different remedies for different parts of the province.

"We've been very clear that school fees are decisions that are made at the local level. They're a discussion that takes place between parents and local school boards and the communities need to make those decisions. We've been very clear that that's the policy and we're not intending to change that policy," she said.