A press release from the Alberta Liberal Party caught my attention this afternoon:
It’s not campaign promises or criticism of government spending policies which stirred my attention, it was this;
The Calgary Board of Education recently announced that it is cutting the number of new schools it is expecting to receive to 20 from 24 in its 10 year plan. At the same time it is increasing its projections of student growth in Calgary’s suburbs, students that will need to be bussed to inner city schools because of an acute shortage of classrooms in Calgary’s outlying areas.
The emphasis is mine, it’s borne from years as a community advocate and as a resident of a mature/inner-city community. One that’s working to revitalize and save it’s neighborhood schools. I posted the following response to the announcement on Facebook. Whether or not you’re a resident of a mature community or a suburban one, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, and this topic.
There is another angle with which to view this. That being the perspective of inner-city communities who are struggling to revitalize, to attract young families, and to maintain their community schools and transform them into “community hubs”. When an inner-city school is put on the chopping block, for the community’s children, bus rides, whether to another part of the city or a more suburban school become a fact of life, and this seldom seems to be a consideration in the final decision. If we’re concerned about the sustainability of our cities, then perhaps some suburban funding commitments should be re-evaluated.
As a resident of a mature community which has seen a school closure, I see neighborhood children now riding the bus out of the community when their parents who grew up here, once walked to school. Why should bus rides continue to grow in a one-way direction to the out-skirts of the city? Why is the prospect of busing some students to existing infrastructure within the city, treated with such disdain? New neighborhoods eventually become older neighborhoods in need of revitalization and reinvestment. Continually expanding outward isn’t a solution, looking inward and taking advantage of what we already have is. If a few inner-city schools find new life educating suburban students, if this provides an incentive to consider living and raising a family within an older community, if this encourages reinvestment in older infrastructure, and all it costs is a longer bus ride, I’ve no problem with that.