News: Parents rally to save Riverdale kindergarten class

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Published in the August 24 2010 issue of The Edmonton Sun. News


Parents rally to save Riverdale kindergarten class

After working all summer to save the kindergarten class from being cut at Riverdale Elementary School this fall, parents are now cautiously breathing a sigh of relief.

“We’ve met the target that they (the school board) set out for us,” said Mike Evans, president of the Riverdale Parent Advisory Council.

Evans handed kindergarten registration forms to the principal at Riverdale, 8620 91 St., at an open house on Monday afternoon.

The Edmonton Public School Board had announced in June it was getting rid of the kindergarten class because of low enrolment numbers.

INCREASE ENROLMENT

But after hundreds of parents and students protested the cut, superintendent Edgar Schmidt said the class could be saved if enrolment numbers rose significantly.

“They asked us for 15 students and we’re going to have that number of registrations for them to process,” Evans said.

“We’re very, very hopeful. We’ve done better than double the enrolment that was here in June.”

The school board was to verify registrations Monday and Schmidt will announce whether the program has been saved on Tuesday.

“They set the target, we met the target. I don’t think they have a lot of room to manoeuvre out of it now,” said hopeful parent Kevin Minaker, whose six-year-old son Aydin was part of the kindergarten program last year.

“We’ re ecstatic ,” said another parent, Jason Scott, whose son Griffin, 4, will be entering the kindergarten program this fall.

“It was a real community effort to get this done.”

‘COMMENDABLE EFFORT’

Cheryl Oxford, managing director of communications for Edmonton Public Schools, congratulated the parent group for their “commendable effort.”

But Oxford could not say for certain on Monday whether the class has yet been saved.

“If enrolment has increased significantly, the superintendent will certainly look at if the kindergarten class can be a go for this year,” she said.

However, Evans is positive that the class will remain and says the kindergarten cut was part of a much bigger problem looming.

Starting this fall, 70 public schools including Riverdale will be up for sector reviews, reviews which could potentially lead to announcements of more school closures.

“If you take the feeder program out of this school, that’s really the life blood that makes it sustainable,” Evans said.

“(Now) in addition to having saved kindergarten, what we intend to do is to advocate not just for our own small school but for small schools everywhere.”

Last year, 74 students were enrolled at Riverdale Elementary School.

Earlier this year five public schools were closed due to low enrolment.

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