Parents propose senior-student partnership to save school

A group of Edmonton parents are fighting to help get an ailing elementary school back in business using a novel approach.

Trustees will vote on school's future on Tuesday

Lana Brenneis is part of a group of parents proposing St. Gabriel's join forces with a senior centre to share costs. (CBC)

A group of Edmonton parents is fighting to help get an ailing elementary school back in business using a novel approach.

St. Gabriel is one of four schools the Catholic School Board may close in order to build a new mega-school.

However, a group of concerned parents two of whom attended the school themselves as children don’t want that to happen.

Working with a consultant, the group has come up with a brand new plan to keep the school in place: by pairing up with a senior’s complex to share costs.

The plan would see the existing building torn down and replaced with a small school on one side of the lot and a senior’s complex on the other.

As far as they know, this is the first time a partnership like this has been attempted.

“It’s win, win, win,” said developer Tom Olsen.

“The school board wins because they don’t have to close schools and pit neighbour against neighbour, the province because they don't have to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars they don't have and the communities win because kids get to go to school in their neighbourhoods.”

Parent Lana Brenneis is behind the plan.

“I’m hopeful that the Catholic School District would like to be part of it. But if not, we will look at partnering with other groups. But it would be such a loss to the community if this school is closed.”

The entrepreneurial parents will find out whether the school board is willing to consider the idea on Tuesday when the trustees vote on the school’s future.

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