Elnora School seeking new ways of attracting students

Elnora School’s principal, Jocelyn Pennock, came to council in helping combat lower attendance rates.

Dep. Mayor Leah Nelson suggested to council at their meeting on Tue. Nov. 12 that the school could use some community leaders who can advocate on behalf of the school.

This meeting in particular was also done to keep the lines of communication open between councillors and school staff.

There is still talk of having broadband internet installed for the entire village to use in the future as their current system is much slower.

“It’s been more feasible than anything else we’ve looked at for possibilities,” said Nelson. “I’m quite excited about it actually but we need community leaders to put a voice to it.”

Nelson asked Pennock if the school would advocate for this reliable service.

“I know there are lots of frustrations with our families and parents so that would be great,” said Pennock.

Elnora’s school currently as 50 students enrolled compared to 62 last year with 13 Grade 8 students moving to a school with the higher grades available like Delburne or Trochu.

Ten students are in Kindergarten this year “but we did have two or three families move out of the area so it is what it is,” said Pennock.

Nelson added, “It takes a village to raise a child, there is a lot of things in town that aren’t doing a lot of events.

“Our rink is in jeopardy. I think there is a lot of things as a village we can do together to get things going and moving and making us exciting.”

Principal Pennock told council there have been some newer, younger families moving into the area as well.

“I think that’s brought new energy as well so that is a positive,” she said.

“Obviously at 50 we would like that number higher, not that they are talking about closing the school but I think it’s more [about] sustainability rather than viability,” continued Pennock.

She stressed the importance of taking charge of the situation.

“If there is anything that we can do to be proactive because once we get to a certain number and then they start looking at us then that’s never a good thing and it’s hard to draw people at that point as well so I would rather be proactive if we can.

“We have a great staff and very committed and local teachers and local staff and I think that’s also really positive,” she said.

Pennock was open in allowing interested students to attend the school for a day to see if it would be a good fit.

More ideas on sustainability were encouraged for the future.

The Elnora School pamphlet was updated with copies passed around for distribution.

Elnora community fund 

After three meetings, village council came to a decision regarding a $321.63 donation from the Red Deer & District Community Foundation.

Council decided to give this money to the Elnora Youth Centre to help purchase furniture that also acts as storage.

The Museum and library have been supported in the past.

“There is a lot of good things happening over there and I think the 300 dollars would go a long way with the stuff they are getting some of the kids to do,” said Dep. Mayor Nelson.

ATCO presentation

ATCO representatives Patrick Charron and Jen Friesen presented plenty of avenues for renewed street lighting within Elnora.

Neighbours both to the north and south of the village have already started or are close to finishing converting their electrical high pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights to the new LED streetlights that don’t burn once converted.

Trochu and Three Hills have given the green light to begin the switch while Linden has already completed the process.

“We don’t want to be left in the dark,” joked Mayor Rob Aellen.

The HPS style lights have had ‘mixed reviews but overall positive response’ according to the presenters.

These lights are only on when needed and do not give off light pollution by putting all the focus on the streets.

They also minimize blue light exposure, are 100 per cent recyclable and do not have a bulb in need of replacement as every 10 to 15 years the entire fixture is replaced.

ATCO has an LED Conversion Multiplier, a unique way of getting the lights while still paying as a sort of plan between the municipalities and provider.

This multiplier simply allows the village to tack on a little extra money on monthly electric bills with no upfront cost and in the end a bit of annual savings through this method.

All other municipalities that have been undergoing the transition have used this system as well.

They estimate each light to cost roughly $500 each.

The village has 43 in total to replace so the cost for labour, materials and equipment would be $21,500.

An offer letter was given to council for their consideration.

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) will approve the multiplier before any more action is taken.

Council/staff mileage

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sharon Wesgate presented a cost comparison with surrounding communities on vehicle mileage rates.

The village currently sits at an even 50 cents per kilometre while all surrounding municipalities compared to were higher at 54 to 58 cents per km.

After deliberation, council chose to keep their mileage as is and will review again at their organizational meeting next year.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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