Minor regulation changes made for coveted charter schools

Though the Alberta Education Minister announced some regulatory changes for charter schools Thursday, it will not do much to ease the demand for the coveted spots.

Calgary wait lists more than double capacity

Alberta Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced Thursday that charter schools will only have to renew their charter every 15 years, rather than five. (CBC)

Though Alberta's Education Minister announced some regulatory changes for charter schools Thursday, it won’t do much to ease the demand for the coveted spots.

Thomas Lukaszuk’s announcement will mean less paperwork for school administrators. Charters for the schools will have to be renewed every 15 years, rather than every five.

Of the 8,000 children enrolled in charters schools in Alberta 6,000 of them are in Calgary.

That's the same number currently on a waiting list to get into one of those schools, the Foundations for the Future Charter Academy (FFCA).

"I would characterize the demand as extreme," said Judy Gray, a co-principal at FFCA.

The announced changes are welcome, but won’t help to clear the backlog of students wanting to get in, she said.

The school could double its student population tomorrow if the enrolment cap was abolished, said Gray.

"If you are a family who is 5980 on foundations waiting list, then ‘choice’ is kind of an empty word."

She says the province needs to make many concessions if it really wants to give parents more choice.

Wait list sometimes happens at birth 

"Some people wait from the moment their child is born. There are people who literally phone from the hospital to our office to to get on the wait list."

Lukaszuk says everything, and anything, that allows for a better education is up for discussion.

"If I hear an overwhelming desire to look at growing charters it is something that I will definitely consider.  I will not preclude anything that is put on my desk."

And though the regulatory change may be seen as a minor concession, Lukaszuk says many will see the move as controversial.

"Let’s not be kidding ourselves, obviously Alberta Teachers Association, as an organization, has issues with the existence of charter schools, and disputing the fact whether they’re public," he said. "I definitely consider them public."