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NLPS presenting solutions for Cold Lake's high enrolment to parents

Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) are preparing to present possible solutions to over population in their Cold Lake schools to the community in April. File photo.

COLD LAKE – Parents will be getting a glimpse at the options available to solve Northern Lights Public Schools’ (NLPS) problem with high enrolment in their Cold Lake schools.

After combining all of the information gathered during the Cold Lake Configuration Committee’s two meetings, Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) is preparing to present three possible solutions to parents. An information session will be scheduled in April, with the exact date and location still being determined.

“We also had to look at what the numbers are and whether some of the things they had suggested were going to be feasible with the space in the schools and the (increase) in enrolment there,” explained Nicole Garner, director of communications for NLPS.

The committee was formed in 2019 and is made up of parents and principals from the division’s Cold Lake schools. They have been tasked with determining ways to address the strain put on schools due to the influx in student population. NLPS is projecting enrolment in these schools to jump from 2,434 in 2019/20 to 2,638 by the 2022/23 school year.

During their first meeting, the members considered how they could solve the problem and came up with proposals.

“The goal of the committee wasn’t to make a decision or recommendations to the board, it was to come up with options, figure out the best way to get feedback from the broader community, bring everything they collected to the board, and the board will make a decision,” Garner detailed.

Board trustee Mandi Skogen was “impressed by the whole process.”

“It was actually really exciting to see the different configuration ideas the parents had come up with because they understood the issue that we were having and understood the need that we had to reconfigure,” she recalled. “The ideas that flowed out of that meeting were just amazing to see all of these parents working together and thinking of the students as a whole and not just as their children and how it would affect them. They came up with some wonderful ideas and were so thoughtful in the process coming up with pros and cons of each situation and discussing how it would affect different students in the area.”

Garner added, “They’ve gone from thinking about the school that their kid attends to looking at the bigger picture of all the students in the community and how it affects everybody… The trustees are really impressed with the parents, the work they’ve done with the amount of information they’ve had to review and digest. Now we’re really excited to see what’s going to happen when we take this out to the community and do the presentation.”

Following the information session, a survey will be available for parents who couldn’t attend the meeting but would like to provide feedback.

“They were also talking about the different ways they can present to the community as a whole, ensuring that they can get the most feedback possible because a lot of the community does work away,” explained Skogen. “There’s a lot of parents that work out of town and won’t necessarily be able to attend specific meetings in person.”

Although there might be some more input required from parents after the initial presentation, all of the information will be considered before the board makes a final decision on how to address overcrowding in their Cold Lake locations.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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