North Trail High School overflows less than a year after opening

Parents worry about whether their ninth graders will get into the new North Trail High, a school they waited years to see built, but which is now full.

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Less than a year after opening its doors to students, North Trail High School is projected to be overcapacity, with plans to send new students to Crescent Heights by next fall.

Families with children hoping to attend North Trail received an email from the Calgary Board of Education earlier this week, just days after the new high school celebrated with parents its first year, opening to children in grades 10 and 11 last fall.

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According to the letter, North Trail will have excess capacity for the 2024-25 school year, when it includes grades 10-12, and “will not be able to accommodate all new students living within the designated school boundaries.”

Tamara Keller, whose son is now in 10th grade and, like all returning students, will be able to continue in school, says many families in the community are concerned about whether their 9th graders will still be able to enroll.

“Right now there is a lot of anxiety. Parents are really frustrated and worried,” said Keller, a member of Advocates for North Calgary High School, who lives in Coventry Hills.

“It seems a shame that after so many years of hard work, there are still families in our communities who send their children to an inner-city high school.

“The school will be so overcapacity once it opens to grades 10-12 this fall, that excess students will be sent back to Crescent Heights, to once again travel to an inner-city school.”

At a time when grades are so critical to students’ chosen post-secondary programs, Keller says many will struggle with a trip that can take 45 minutes to an hour each way, the same one kids took before North Trail opened.

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CBE faced registrations ‘at a higher rate than expected’

Parents in several Northwest communities organized fundraisers and rallies to lobby for the construction of North Trail for more than a decade.

It was announced that the opening last fall of this $70.5 million, state-of-the-art facility would add 1,800 students, with many of them walking distance from communities such as Coventry Hills, Country Hills and Panorama Hills.

But Keller says the school already has 1,300 students and another 600 are expected to arrive this fall when the school adds another grade.

“Continued enrollment” throughout the current school year “has been at a higher pace than anticipated for the communities designated for the school,” the CBE letter states.

As a result, “changes must be implemented to ensure that the learning environment is not negatively impacted and to manage enrollment at North Trail High School.”

CBE said ninth-grade students who registered before April 29 will be able to attend North Trail, including students from eight different high schools, if they are within the designated North Trail boundaries.

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But any new registrations that cannot be accommodated will be transferred to Crescent Heights and placed on a “call back list,” invited to North Trail only if space is available.

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“When a new school opens in an already developed and growing area, we expect the school to fill up quickly,” CBE spokesperson Kara Layher said Tuesday.

“This was seen when we opened our two recent secondary schools, Joane Cardinal Schubert Secondary School and Nelson Mandela Secondary School.”

With Thousands of New Students, CBE Faces Record Enrollment Surge

North Trail is now among 34 CBE schools that have overcapacity, sending students to several overflow schools outside their communities and designated boundaries.

As record numbers of newcomers arrive in Alberta – from other provinces and from war-torn regions such as Ukraine and the Middle East – CBE faces an unprecedented surge in enrollment that is expected to continue in the coming years. years.

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After welcoming more than 7,000 new children in 2023-24, bringing total enrollment to a record 138,244, CBE projects a total of 146,294 students in 2024-25, meaning an additional 8,050 children.

And in 2025-26, the CBE projects a total of 153,193 students, 6,899 additional children, reaching another all-time high.

In total, in the next two years the CBE expects to recruit another 14,800 students, more than the 13,000 received in the previous two record years.

Still, in the UCP’s 2024 Budget announced this spring, the CBE received full funding for the construction of just one new school, a new K-4 school in Evanston, among 12 other full construction approvals across Alberta.

UCP officials have insisted new schools are being built as quickly as possible, investing $2.1 billion over the next three years to build 43 schools across the province, including 11 in Calgary.

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