After nearly a year of discussions, planning and public input, the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Board of Trustees have decided to drop grades 10 through 12 at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sexsmith.
“It was a tough decision, but we went out a year ago and really spoke to the parents,” says Board Chair Michael Ouellette, “but at the end of the day the numbers weren’t there to continue a quality high school environment.”
Despite keeping the full K-12 program during the 2019-2020 school year, the decision was reversed due to low enrollment rates, which includes under 50 students being in grades 10-12. Ouellette says scrapping the high school portion of the school is the best decision for the division going forward.
“The budgets didn’t really come into play at all… it was strictly the number of students that was our number one deciding factor; it wasn’t a money thing.”
Ouellette says the plan for the current crop of St. Mary’s High School students will see them ship over to St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Grande Prairie this fall.
“The population is small enough that they’ll integrate nicely into that, then we can make the school out in Sexsmith a high-quality K-9 with top-notch education, as we do in Beaverlodge.”
The changes will come into effect after the school year is completed in June, and will start in Fall 2020-2021.