St. Mark School to stay open

Catholic school board trustees have decided to keep St. Mark School open.
Laura Shewchuk was one of the parents who fought the closure of St. Mark School. (CBC)

After a heated debate on Tuesday, Catholic school board trustees voted by a 4-3 margin to keep St. Mark Junior High School open, a decision that prompted a cheer from parents.

"We are very relieved," Laura Shewchuk said.

The school, located at 116th Avenue and 135th Street, was set to close two years ago, but trustees agreed to wait so board officials and parents could find a way to boost enrolment.

But the numbers stayed low. St. Mark's can hold 441 students but only 111 children registered this year. A closure would have saved the board $624,000.

Board chairwoman Debbie Engel was opposed to keeping the school open.

"I do not believe it is fiscally responsible to continue to go into a deficit to keep this school open when we can accomodate the children at other sites," she said.

Shewchuk acknowledged that enrolment needs to increase.

"Our job is only starting," she said. "We have some work to do to keep spreading the good word that our school is great."

The school needs about $1 million in renovations and operates at a deficit. Money to keep St. Mark open will have to come from somewhere else in the budget.