WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
St. Brendan parents were surprised to learn the school will close forever this month.
June 9, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – After more than 40 years serving the Ottewell community in southeast Edmonton, St. Brendan Catholic School will close at the end of June so construction of a new replacement school can start on its site.
The chair of the school's parents' advisory committee says she and other parents are "frustrated and upset" the school is being closed with little notice.
"We were always told that we had another year to plan and coordinate and get the kids used to the idea of going someplace else and now we have a month," parents' council president Sherry Stewart told the WCR.
"We have so many questions and there are so many things going on, we just feel very bamboozled."
Beginning in September, students from St. Brendan – current enrollment is 136 – will be bused to St. James School, about four kilometres away.
Free busing will be provided until September 2016 when the new elementary-junior high is expected to open.
On May 21 the Catholic school board voted to close St. Brendan, St. James and St. Kevin schools and combine the students in a new replacement school on the St. Brendan site.
The board was hoping St. Brendan's could continue to operate during construction, but Alberta Infrastructure rejected the idea after visiting the site, district spokesperson Lori Nagy said May 29.
St. Brendan parents are generally supportive of the replacement school but some would have liked to have more time to prepare for the move.
Stewart said the school doesn't even have time to organize a celebration for its patron, St. Brendan.
"This school has been around for generations. Some of our kids' parents went to this school and now we don't even have a chance to say 'goodbye' to our great school."
Stewart, who has two children at St. Brendan, said she heard from many parents who will move their children to the public system.
She is also worried that "teachers are left out in the cold."
However, Stewart is happy that in two years her children will be able to attend a new school in their own neighbourhood. "However it's the change, the transition."
Nagy said St. Brendan parents were told at an April 15 meeting that "if the proposed replacement school is built on the St. Brendan site, St. Brendan students may have to be relocated to another school during the two years of construction."
At that point, the district didn't know the board would pick St. Brendan as the site for the replacement school. That decision was made May 21.
Charlet Nelson, who was picking up her five-year-old daughter Magdalene from kindergarten May 29, said she was shocked by the news the school will close at the end of June.
"I think it's too soon," she said. She will have to arrange transportation to St. James for her daughter because she cannot drive her there.
"On the other hand, I'm happy. They are transferring the kids for their own safety. They don't want the kids playing around during construction."
Robyn Selover, who was picking her granddaughter from St. Brendan's, was "totally fine" with the move.
It would have been "chaotic" to keep the school open during construction, she said.
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