The chair of the Calgary Board of Education is urging the provincial education minister not to meet with Scenic Acres residents over their concerns about a proposed francophone school.
The proposed school was announced in February as part of a provincial infrastructure investment that would see 10 new schools built in Calgary. Residents say the proposed site should remain a park and the education minister agreed to a meeting to hear their worries about the plan, but the CBE is asking him not to do so.
"While we recognize your commitment to give the Scenic Acres residents a hearing, we are concerned that parent and resident appeals to ministers should not be seen as a standard recourse for small dissatisfied groups," Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre wrote in the letter. "If there is a public perception that, as a result of such a meeting, the minister will request municipalites and school boards to pursue outcomes not beneficial to all citizens of Calgary, by insisting on more community consultation, or directing the use of other reserve sites ... there could be significant long-term implications for your office and for school development processes."
The proposed francophone school would serve about 400 students from kindergarten through Grade 6.
When the community was developed in the 1980s, the green space now under debate had been designated as a school site.
However, neither the CBE or the Calgary Catholic School Board decided to build there.
The land was then offered to the francophone school board but residents say they should have been notified that the CBE and Catholic boards had passed so they could organize a bid to keep the land as green space.
School board 'not listening,' say residents
Residents say the community has changed and grown since the neighbourhood was first developed, and that the current green space is extensively used.
They also say the school board isn't listening to their concerns about the proposed school.
"These people aren't concerned about us," said Devaughn Fraser, whose children play at Scenic Acres Park. "[Bowen-Eyre]'s concerned about a precedent. I'm concerned about the precedent of people not listening to what we have to say."
At this point, no date has been set for the meeting between Johnson and the residents.
Roughly 3,000 people have signed a petition opposing the francophone school proposal.