(BLACK PRESS file photo)

WCPS board provides review of boundary and grade configuration in Blackfalds and Lacombe

Lacombe and Blackfalds families and school staff have the opportunity this month to provide their thoughts on new grade configuration and attendance boundary options for Lacombe and Blackfalds schools.

The Wolf Creek Public Schools’ (WCPS) Blackfalds/Lacombe boundary and grade configuration review is in the second phase of its engagement process.

The review comes as WCPS prepares for a new high school to be built next to Iron Ridge Junior Campus in Blackfalds, opening its doors in 2024.

There will be two drop-in open houses in May. One will be held at the Iron Ridge Junior Campus in Blackfalds on May 17, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the other at Lacombe Composite High School on May 18, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

There will also be a survey available at the open houses as well as online from May 17 to May 30.

Tim De Ruyck, WCPS superintendent said that students from Blackfalds and the area currently attend high school in Lacombe.

“A new school will bring some new changes, but the division is excited about the opportunities the new school will provide, this includes assessing the current attendance boundaries and the grade configurations of all schools in Blackfalds and Lacombe,” said De Ruyck.

The first phase of the public engagement was in February and saw parents, staff and community members provide overall and general input on the current grade structure and attendance boundaries for both Lacombe and Blackfalds schools.

Currently, only Blackfalds schools, and not Lacombe schools, are part of the grade configuration options, but both are included in the attendance boundary options. French Immersion students in the Blackfalds and Lacombe attendance boundaries will still attend their designated school in Lacombe.

Additionally, Clive families were consulted in the first phase of the engagement process to gauge their interest in attending Blackfalds for high school, if they resided closer to that community. They currently attend Lacombe Composite High School for high school, and responses indicated a desire for that to continue.

“We heard from Clive area families that they want their children to attend high school in Lacombe, so that will not change, regardless of any changes to the Blackfalds or Lacombe attendance boundaries,” said De Ruyck.

“Thank you to all those who provided feedback in the online engagement in February. The input helped inform the development of proposed options for public feedback,” said De Ruyck.

In the first phase, the public had the opportunity to fill out the online survey and review the materials online.

More than 1,300 people visited the online engagement site to learn about the project, with 297 being engaged participants, and 537 becoming informed visitors. The feedback was used in combination with enrolment projections and operational realities (such as transportation costs, etc) to inform the attendance boundary and grade configuration options that are being presented to the public this month.

There are two attendance boundary options and four, grade configuration options that will be presented, but there are some things that will not change, regardless of the alternative chosen.

Following the second phase of the public engagement this month, public feedback will be used to determine a preferred option. That preferred option will then be shared with the community in the fall for additional feedback. The Board of Trustees will make the final decision on any boundary and grade configuration changes.

Changes would not go into effect until 2024 when the new Blackfalds high school opens.

More information, as well as the online survey, will be shared on WCPS website.

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