Downtown Calgary workplace W.H. Cushing elementary school to close

Established in 1995 as workplace school, W.H. Cushing in downtown Calgary will close in June. The landlord was Telus, which now wants to renovate the building and end the partnership.

After a 20-year partnership, Telus bows out of its $1 per year lease to the CBE

W.H. Cushing school, established in 1995, will close at the end of June. (Calgary Board of Education)

The Calgary Board of Education has voted to close W.H. Cushing school this June, because Telus wants to renovate the building.

It was originally a partnership between AGT (now Telus) and the CBE, where the goal  was to allow parents working downtown to be more closely involved with their children's schooling.

Telus leased the space to the CBE for a dollar a year in exchange for their employees' kids getting enrolment priority.

Roni Kirkness is a parent with two daughters in the school and serves as the Vice Chair of the school council.

She told the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray she is "very sad," about the decision.

"It's such a great concept for new families, and especially for families that don't have extra support."

Kirkness said the school offers before and after school care, programs for PD days and through the summer.

The school's downtown location — kitty-corner to the Bay and across the street from Central United Church — allowed Kirkness to attend her kids' school assemblies and field trips without taking the entire day off work.

Located on the main floor of the Telus building, the so-called workplace school was first established in 1995.

But now Telus wants to renovate the building and end its CBE lease.

The school board says it approached 45 downtown corporations to consider a partnership similar to the Telus deal.

Without a lease offered at nominal cost, it's not cost effective for the CBE to build or lease a downtown space for W.H. Cushing school, according to an official CBE letter to the Minister of Education.

Four corporations expressed interest in a partnership, said the CBE in an official document, but they ultimately declined because of Calgary's economic downturn.

Enrolment at the school has dropped in the last year from about 110 students to 60, as families are moving away and enrolling their children in other schools.


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