Public school board votes to close Ritchie, Woodcroft
Two more Edmonton public schools will be closed in June, board trustees decided Tuesday at the end of an emotional meeting.
The board voted 5-4 to shut down Woodcroft Elementary, in northwest Edmonton. The vote to close Ritchie Junior High, on the city's south side was 6-3.
The decision ended two years of struggle by parents to save their local schools, and some were bitter about the process.
"When we entered into this two years ago it was about sustainability. Let's look for creative ways to keep this school open," said Ritchie parent Carrie Walmsley.
"No. It is a way, it is a process intent on closing schools, just selecting which ones they can pick off."
Laurie Martin complained the board is leaving no place in the system for smaller schools.
"At large schools it is easy for children to fall through the cracks. At Woodcroft our teachers know our students."
But the hard numbers — only 95 children enrolled at Woodcroft, 89 at Ritchie — make the schools financially unsustainable, said Public School Board chair Bev Esslinger.
"It's a very emotional night. It's a very difficult decision to make. But at the end of the day it's about what's best for those students."
Edmonton's public school board has closed 12 schools since 1995, mostly in older areas of the city where enrolment is declining.
Three other schools, Horse Hills, Grosvenor and Coronation, which were being considered for closure this year, were given a two-year reprieve by the school board in January to see if they can increase enrolment.