The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Students commute for more than an hour one-way to get to schools in the city

busWith several new communities springing up in southeast Calgary, there are some hardships that come with that development. One of them is a long commute for students to get to school, due to many of these communities not being graced with schools of their own.

Carla Obuck, mother of two and a member of the Auburn Bay Community Association, has been working diligently to try and make school commutes easier for students.

"I want my kids to be able to go to high school and get back home without having to be in transit for two hours when they get to that age," she said.

CommConnectAuburn Bay is on a five-year waiting list for a public high school to be built in the community, Obuck says. Trustees of both the public and private boards of education hold two separate lists of planned schools.

The problem is not just that there are no schools nearby. High schools closer to the south, like Bishop O'Byrne and Centennial High School, are full and have students filtering into them from other regions of the city.

In the community of Auburn Bay, students only have access to the following public schools across the board:

Elementary

Junior High

High School

Because schools fill up so quickly, high school students in Auburn Bay are transported to schools like Bishop Grandin High School and Dr. E.P Scarlett, which are six communities farther north and take at least an hour to get to by bus.

Junior high and elementary schools are also a tough commute. Obuck's children, aged 12 and nine, attend Christ the King, a K-9 school. Her kids only have a 10-minute commute to and from, but used to have an hour-and-a-half-long ride to St. Boniface Elementary in Bonavista.

This relative luxury may not be long-lived by Auburn Bay parents, says Obuck.

"As [my kids' school] keeps filling up we don't know how long they will take us in. Parents who were in public schools are digging out their old Catholic baptismal certificates to move their kids to the closer [Catholic] school that opened up," she said.

The president of the Auburn Bay Community Association, James Sale, has also been working on the issue, and often hears monthly complaints from residents.

"The bottom line is we are underserviced in this part of Calgary and the parents and children of the community are the ones paying the price through long commutes to faraway schools," he said.

Calgary-Hays MLA Art Johnston is the representative for the Auburn Bay region and has been talking with Obuck about the schooling issues. Though he is working for change, he also knows there are limited things that can be done from his end.

"It's prioritized based on numbers," said Johnston. "There is basically a list of who's next on the list or who may be on the list two years down the road.

"We have schools throughout the city that are in some cases almost empty, but people have to get on a bus and travel to whatever school is designated to them by the board [of education]," he said.

Though being moved up on the list is a slim chance, there is always a possibility, Johnston said.

"Based on the numbers and rapid growth of students, it can happen. It's just not something that happens a lot," he said.

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