Michael Strembitsky School overcrowding plan frustrates parents

Enrolment at Michael Strembitsky school is bursting at the seams, meaning eight kindergarten classes will be bused to schools outside the community of Summerside starting next fall.

Frustrated parent Cynthia Khan: “Who wants to buy a five-bedroom house across from a school that you can’t go to?"

The bumper-to-bumper traffic outside Michael Strembitsky School in the morning is a telling sign there's a problem.

"Look at this. This is insane!" said parent Cynthia Khan. "Kids are always late for school because of the traffic," Khan has 4 kids who attend the busy school, but that's all going to change starting next fall.

On Thursday, Edmonton Public Schools announced a plan that would see all eight kindergarten classes at Michael Strembitsky moving seven kilometres north to Satoo Elementary School.

For Khan, who moved from within the boundaries to a house across the street from Strembitsky, this marks the second time the family has had to deal with change.

"We decided to build a house right across the street from the school so our kids could walk to school and it would just be convenient  and now we're kicked out again," she said. "It's not one blow. It's a second blow for us and our family and our kids."

And she's isn't alone. Other parents in the community are also frustrated. 

"What can you do?  This community is growing too fast," says Arthy Jeya.

The young mother has one son enrolled in kindergarten at Strembitsky. Next fall he will have to ride a bus to Satoo Elementary School in Mill Woods.  

Her younger son is starting kindergarten next fall but she's still not sure where.

Arthy Jeya lives three minutes from Michael Strembitsky school, despite that her kids will be bused to Satoo Elementary in Mill Woods.

School near capacity at opening

Jeya's home is just blocks away from Strembitsky, but it's outside of the boundary.  She's hoping the two new public schools and Catholic school now under construction in the neighbourhood will relieve some of the pressure.

"We built our house seven years ago because we knew there was going to be a school here, but now we have no access to this school," said Jeya. "There are two new schools which are still under construction but they're late. They were supposed to open this September but I think they're one year late."

Michael Strembitsky was already close to capacity when it opened in September of 2012, leading the board to restrict enrolment to families who live within the attendance area.

"It's our goal as soon as possible to have kids learning as close to home as possible, " said Chris Wright, manager of infrastructure for Edmonton Public Schools. 

In a report released last November the school board cited the pressure is a result due to the number of children under the age of four having grown from 550 kids to 880, an extra 330 children.

"Central to any plan, and central to the families in southeast Edmonton, is the construction of new schools and we fully anticipate the school construction to be on schedule," said Wright. 

"We're really looking forward to that. It's an important piece of any plan for the growth that we see in some neighbourhoods in southeast Edmonton."

It's a plan many parents in the community of Summerside would argue has failed them, as they scramble to figure out what they're going to do for next fall.


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