Halkirk trying to save village school

J.D. and Sandra Johnston, parents from Mother Teresa School in Halkirk, came to the County of Painteath council meeting on July 30 to talk about cutbacks to teacher’s hours at the school. They requested a letter of support from council asking if more funding could be available for the school and suggested it be sent to the principal of the school, Veronica Pinkoski,  Superintendent Charlie McCormack and trustee Rob Nichols.

All agreed to write the letter of support.

The school has 37 students from grades 1 through 9 and did have 3.1 full time teacher positions but as of June 23 a budget cut saw the teacher position down to 2.3 for the school.

Johnston presented to council an email written by the group and sent to Pinkoski, which stated that Byemoor school with 33 students has 2.85 teachers and

Brownfield with 34 students has  3.1 teachers and stressed to her the importance of finding the funding to keep the .75 of the teacher position.

“Losing .75 of a teacher has repercussions far deeper than balancing a budget,” the email stated.

Johnston told council that Mother Teresa School has classes with four and five  different grades in one class and that the school group is looking at possibly cutting Shop and Home Economic classes as they are classes that take place in Castor.

While the group also looked at parents volunteering their time to teach these classes themselves, they have found that it can’t be done as policies state that a teacher must still be present. Johnston also stated that a teacher cannot teach a class they aren’t paid for, even if they wanted to.

Johnston also said that the group had considered the potential of the school becoming a “blended” school, one where there were physical teachers but also where using technology with online resources was part of the curriculum.

Johnston questioned council if it was possible that the school taxes in the community be put toward their school but council said that wasn’t possible.
CAO Tarolyn Peach explained that all school taxes were essentially pooled and then divided out to both public and catholic schools dependant on the number of students of each school.

While there is lots of support from the community with fundraising activities, the Elks and casino incomes it was clarified that private persons cannot pay for a teacher or administration at a school.

“A school is paramount to the success of a small town, which in turn is essential to the survival of a community,” the group wrote.

The Johnston’s have a meeting with the East Central Alberta Catholic Separate School Board on August 24 and also meeting with the Superintendent in August.

State of Awareness for County declared
With many counties in Alberta declaring states of emergency due to lack of rainfall and grasshopper devastation, council debated about declaring a state of emergency for the County of Paintearth.

Instead, council decided to announce a state of awareness because there were pockets of areas within the County that were good as they had seen higher rainfall over the spring and summer.

Many councils though, expressed concern over the lack of rainfall other areas have seen.

Reeve George Glazier commented on the various stages of growth of some crops as you travel throughout the county giving the example of fields of canola with some crops still green and others just miles away in full, yellow bloom saying that the difference in rainfall was huge.

He also stated that even with the lack of rain the lawns were still green.

A tax relief has already been given for hay, which has taken a huge hit due to the lack of rainfall and has seen farmers looking for land for pasture and hay.

A number of councillors said that they had already had calls of concern about the county declaring the state of emergency but the decision from council was if they did do that the only real benefit would be to assist with extra funding and that it brings attention to the area.

While there is still time to declare the state of emergency everyone is hoping they won’t have to.

More construction for landfill
Progressive Waste will be building a new entrance in the Coronation landfill and construction will begin as soon as development permits are handed in and approved by the county.

Dan  Rochette and John Rush from Progressive Waste presented the proposal to council which will move the entrance from the north side of the landfill off Twp Road 370 onto a side road which will help reduce truck traffic on the busier township road.

The entrance will be moved to the east side along the road and will help redirect trucks south along the eastern border of the landfill and then directly west along the south end of the site.

The construction  would also move the facility buildings and infrastructure to the south end.

John Rush said that they hoped it would also help with illegal dumping and that the new plan is “a long term solution to a lot of problems.”

About the author


ECA Review Publisher


* indicates required