'I want my kids to walk to school': Parents protest school board lottery change

Residents surrounding the Langevin Science School say they weren't consulted when the Calgary Board of Education eliminated priority placement for Bridgeland and Riverside families earlier this year. 

Calgary Board of Education removed a clause that gave first priority to local residents

Parents are protesting the Calgary Board of Education's recent decision to eliminate priority placement for Bridgeland and Riverside families. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

Residents living near the Langevin Science School said they weren't consulted when the Calgary Board of Education eliminated priority placement for Bridgeland and Riverside families earlier this year. 

Some parents and residents protested the move on Tuesday.

"I went to the open house parent meeting last January and there was no mention of this at all," said Mark Gullacher, resident.

"About a month after that, they silently announced this new system."

He said parents should have been told about the lottery change.

Mark Gullacher says he is upset about the school not making parents aware of the change earlier. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"I want my kids to walk to school," he said.

"We moved to this neighborhood five years ago with the intention of going to this school. We have designed a walkable lifestyle and we don't have a car."

Gullacher said he won't find out until next February if his child, who is too young to be enrolled in the school system, can attend Langevin Elementary.

"I'm frustrated and I was led down the garden path," he says. "My big beef is that they should have announced it at the open house."

The Calgary Board of Education said Langevin School community was one of three schools informed that their lottery would be discontinued in order to be more aligned with the system-wide process.

"While this change can be difficult for the communities closest to the school, it helps to ensure fair and equitable access to the science program to students in other communities from a wider geographic area," they said in an emailed statement.

Before this change, all students living in the communities of Riverside and Bridgeland were given first priority into the program, according to a Calgary Board of Education report obtained by CBC News.

The report says first priority will now be given to students that both reside within the walk zone and have a sibling in the same program.

"A standardized lottery process exists to ensure students wishing to attend alternative programs across the city where space may be limited have equitable access to the programs," said the report.

Stephanie Felker, another parent protesting the school boards decision, says the parents of the communities want the board to reverse the changes to priority as well as reduce the walk zone.

Stephanie Felker, a resident in the area, says she feels like this affects the fabric of their community. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"We actually have heard from residents that they have friends who are choosing not to buy in the neighborhood because there's no school that they can walk their children to and others that will sell and move out of the neighborhood if they don't have access to a school," Felker said.

"We've been trying to get a strong walkable community for two decades now and this is something that's going to negatively impact that."


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