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Edmonton school introduces lottery to address overcrowding


A school in southeast Edmonton is implementing a lottery system to deal with overcrowding two years after opening. 

More than 100 parents and students attended a meeting Tuesday night where they learned how administration planned to deal with booming enrolment at Svend Hansen School in Laurel, which is expected to expand beyond capacity by 2021.  

Applause broke out after families learned Svend Hansen would continue to offer a K-9 program, ruling out a previous proposal to send Grade 7 to 9 students to another school. 

“We felt that it was a concept that really addressed a lot of what we heard the community, the feedback they provided — keeping existing kids in the school community, keeping families together,” said Chris Wright, managing director of infrastructure with Edmonton Public Schools told CBC.

“This seemed to be an element that allowed us to deal with some of the dynamic development and growth that we see in and around the school with being able to address some of what you’ve heard about certain pieces remaining as they are — families together, school community together.”

The lottery will be new students that don’t have siblings at the school.  Those who are not selected will attend Kate Chegwin or Weinlos schools or another school of their choice with space. 

But at Tuesday’s meeting, several parents raised concerns about the fairness of the proposed lottery system, which is a first for Edmonton Public.

Tek Suvedi, who bought a home in the Laurel neighbourhood believing there would be a school his future children could attend, worries about what the lottery will now mean for his 10-month old baby down the road.

“My son may not be enrolled in this school — I don’t think that’s fair,” said Suvedi, adding that he only found out about the overcrowding issue after hearing about it on CBC.

Neetu Kaushal said the new rules could prevent her daughter from attending Svend Hansen, even though they live  nearby. Kaushal planned to send her daughter to Svend Hansen after she completed an alternative program at another school. But the new rules mean her daughter will have to enter the lottery.

“I’m just residing a hundred metres from here. I’m paying property taxes,” said Kaushal.

More than a hundred parents and students attended the meeting at Svend Hansen School on Tuesday. (Andrea Huncar/CBC)

Earlier this year, the district held two meetings to discuss potential changes to address the issue and collect feedback. Community input was also gathered online. 

“The system is designed to accommodate as many community kids as we can. That’s the primary objective right,”  said  Wright. “And what we’ve heard in the feedback and we’ll continue to hear is that all situations may not be ideal for all individual circumstances and that’s something that we absolutely try and consider as far as we can. But based on the feedback that we heard loud and clear last year from the school community was keep some things stable and the same. And we think that this model’s tried to address that.”

Up until last night parents worried that one of the proposed solutions would mean busing junior high students to Kate Chegwin school, which would mean a 45-minute bus ride each way. 

The lottery system is expected to be in place before pre-enrolment begins for the 2020-21 school year.

Last week the Alberta government suggested it would eliminate targeted funding to reduce classroom size arguing that it has had little impact.



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