At their regular meeting yesterday, the Board of Trustees approved the Administration’s proposed recommendation to adjust the boundaries associated with three of its schools in Beaumont – École Bellevue School, École Champs Vallée School, and École J. E. Lapointe School – to address capacity and utilization concerns.
Starting this fall, the Grade 6 French Immersion graduating class at École Bellevue School will transition to Ecole J. E. Lapointe School rather than Ecole Champs Vallee school.
Kindergarten to Grade 6 students residing in the subdivisions of Royal Oaks, Lukas Estates, and Diamond Estates will be redirected from École Champs Vallée School to Ecole Bellevue School. As part of a three-year transition plan, only the Kindergarten to Grade 4 students are being redirected for the 2022-2023 school year.
The Board also supported the recommendation to associate the initial neighbourhood phases of the Élan subdivision development with École Bellevue School for Kindergarten to Grade 6.
“As any city continues to grow, neighbourhoods follow a cycle of maturation,” said Board Chair Devonna Klaassen. “We continually work with the City of Beaumont to identify areas of demographic growth and, as needed, adjust our attendance boundaries to best serve all the students in the area.”
“In making this decision, the Board carefully considered the feedback on the proposed recommendations received from the families and staff associated with the three schools,” said Vice-Chair and Ward 4 trustee Esther Eckert. “Over two-thirds of survey respondents expressed support for the changes, and we are confident that the adopted measures will minimize disruptions to students and families, support a successful transition from current attendance boundaries, and enable viable enrolment at all schools.”
“The Board’s decision today supports the viability of the various inclusive educational programs, both in English and French, for the three schools and it has minimal instructional, capital and operational impacts,” said Ward 4 Trustee Robyn Steed.
To fulfill the Board’s direction to address the utilization concerns, a Working Committee made up of Division Office and school-based administrators was formed to focus on the development of methodology, project objectives, and schedule. An Advisory Committee, consisting of members of the Working Committee, trustees and school council representatives from the three schools, was struck to review and provide feedback.
An online feedback opportunity was hosted on Black Gold’s Let’s Connect! public engagement website from March 16 to April 5, 2022, to collect feedback from the staff and families associated with the affected schools on the proposed recommendations. The survey elicited 166 responses from the three school communities, of which 64% expressed positive sentiments, 15% were neutral, and 21% negative.
2021-2022 BEAUMONT PUBLIC SCHOOLS UTILIZATION REVIEW
ECVS, EBS & EJELS Utilization Recommendation: Q&As
Q: Why did the Black Gold School Division review the ECVS, EBS, and EJELS boundaries and transitions?
As part of the annual planning process, Black Gold School Division (BGSD) reviews school utilization rates to help define capital requests and determine if school boundaries or grade configurations require adjustments.
BGSD receives residential development notices from growing municipalities within our Division boundaries. We review impacted school utilization rates upon receiving this information, and decisions are made to associate new or expanding neighbourhoods with existing or new school attendance boundaries.
The city of Beaumont continues to demonstrate much growth and, as a result, a more extensive school utilization review was initiated.
Q: When will the changes occur?
The recommendations will be implemented in the fall of 2022.
Q: If I really like one school but my children are designated to attend another school due to the boundary changes, will my children still be able to attend the school I favour?
All students will be directed to their designated school. Should a parent wish to enroll their child in a school other than their designated school, the enrolment request will be considered as a request to attend a school of choice.
Acceptance to a school of choice will be based upon the existing BGSD administrative procedures, which include consideration of the availability or non-availability of spaces and resources.
Q: Will school bussing be available for my child?
The guidelines for student transportation remain the same. In order to access student transportation, a family must reside outside a 2.4 km radius of their designated school. For a fee, student transportation may be available to families that reside within the 2.4 km radius. Bussing to a school of choice may not be provided.
In-town bussing is available, for a fee, for students that are more than 1 km away from their designated school.
Q: Will school programming be affected by this process?
We offer English and French Immersion instruction in all K-6 schools. Furthermore, a wide variety of elective courses and extracurricular activities based upon student interest and teacher expertise may also be offered.
Q: When will the process of redirecting staffing begin?
Discussions around the movement of staff occur from late April to early May. All staff will be made aware of their place of work for the fall through this process.
Q: Will Beaumont have to go through another boundary review in the near future?
For this project, the Working Committee worked hard to limit the number of boundary and transition changes to minimize disruptions to students and families. Moving forward, it is our intention to minimize the number of reviews; however, it is difficult to predict the rate of future growth in developing neighbourhoods within Beaumont.
Q: In the rural documents, it looks like Élan should be directed to ÉCVS. Is this the case?
This is currently correct, however, as part of the Beaumont School Utilization recommendation, students from the Élan development will be directed as follows:
- ECS-Grade 6: École Bellevue School
- Grade 7-9: French Immersion to École J. E, Lapointe School; English to École Champs Vallée School
- Grade 10-12: École Secondaire Beaumont Composite High School
Q: Were other options considered before making this recommendation?
Yes, several other possibilities were considered. Ultimately, the current recommendation reflects a solution that minimizes disruptions to students and families and maximizes school utilization.
The following information was reviewed to help develop the proposed recommendation:
- Enrolment information for each school,
- by neighbourhood,
- by grade,
- by the school of attendance,
- by the program (i.e. French Immersion, Regular).
- City of Beaumont information,
- including existing and planned residential developments,
- by a residential neighbourhood.
- How the boundary changes would affect the attendance area defined for the three schools;
- Collected and analyzed current school floor plans, showing the use of classrooms by grade and by program;
- Collected and analyzed current school site plans, including the potential for adding additional portable classrooms.
- The number of students who would need to be relocated because of the recommendation;
- Program implications for other schools and for the students when they are attending other schools; and
- The need for, and extent, of bussing for students.
Q: What is BGSD doing about future capital projects in Beaumont? How does this process work?
BGSD is currently working with the City of Beaumont and developers to identify a suitable location for the proposed new high school in Beaumont. While the Division can identify the need for new schools through its three-year and 10-year capital plans, the provincial government reviews and prioritizes all capital requests submitted by each school board throughout Alberta. The Province then determines which capital requests are funded.
Q: Why are English and French not both going to École J.E. Lapointe?
The data review process projected that École J. E. Lapointe School (ÉJELS) would have the capacity to accommodate the French Immersion students from École Bellevue School (ÉBS) while maintaining the capacity to accommodate future students and growth from existing boundaries. Adding both programs to ÉJELS would have changed those projections.
Q: Are these changes going to affect class sizes at the schools?
Class size and configurations are under the purview of the school administration. The recommendations aim to reduce the number of impacted students.
Q: Are you sure capacity will not be overwhelmed at other schools?
The data review process projected both growth and capacity limits of schools. The recommendations that were put forward do not indicate that schools will become overwhelmed.
Q: What about changing grade configurations at other schools (e.g. K-9 at ÉBS)
Recommendations were made based on the school’s ability to support programming. Some schools would be unable to support Junior High programming based on available infrastructure, such as gymnasium space and the lack of amenities required to offer specialized programming for complementary courses.
Q: How many students are attending École Champs Vallée School (ÉCVS) as their school of choice?
School of choice requests fall under the purview of school principals, who determine the best fit for students and families based on availability and the resources at the school site. Removal of students of choice from ÉCVS would have a negligible impact on the utilization rate of ÉCVS.
Q: Can portables be added to ÉCVS? How about ÉBS?
As was mentioned in the previous Beaumont Utilization Review Report, ÉCVS is fully built out, with no availability for portables. ÉBS may be able to add portables in the future, depending on a review regarding the current location of the outdoor hockey rink beside the school.
Q: Why are non-Beaumont residents being accepted into Beaumont schools?
Black Gold School Division (BGSD) is committed to equity of access to education for all students that reside within BGSD boundaries.
Q: Has a feasibility study been completed for future growth?
The City of Beaumont has and continues to share all residential development notices with BGSD. BGSD considers this information for planning purposes.
Q: What will be the effect on French Immersion at ÉCVS?
The approved recommendations will not impact the delivery of programming at the affected schools. Class configurations fall within the purview of the principal of the school.
Q: Why not change Jr. High attendance boundaries?
The recommendations were put forth to minimize the disruptions to schools and families while maximizing school utilization rates.
Q: Has the ÉBS bus lane been upgraded to help with parking and bus issues?
The ÉBS bus lane was recently updated to move the bus drop-off to the east side of the building.
Q: What about families that might have students in both English and French programs?
BGSD will treat this scenario as a school of choice request. Families will be allowed to engage with the principals of the schools to determine the best fit for the student and family, based on availability and resources within the schools in question.
Q: Why was ÉCVS not built to accommodate more students?
Alberta Infrastructure determines the criteria for determining the size of the schools awarded to school divisions. When ÉCVS was awarded to BGSD, Alberta Infrastructure’s criteria set the capacity limit for the school.
Q: Is moving the small volume of students necessary?
If current boundaries were to continue ÉCVS would likely exceed its student capacity as early as the fall of 2022. The recommendation minimizes disruptions to our schools and families.
Q: Have you thought about the students returning from online learning to in-person classes?
The students from the BGSD Distance Learning program were taken into consideration when the recommendations were being evaluated.
Q: What are your plans for transitioning students (i.e. can the students being moved to ÉBS visit the school to familiarize themselves before the new school year)?
Transition plans are being discussed and will be shared with the affected families as they become available.