Nicole Dyck wants to save the 108-year-old King George Community School.
Saskatoon Public Schools announced last year that it would amalgamate King George, Pleasant Hill Community School and Princess Alexandra Community School into a central building.
One of the proposed sites is the current location of Princess Alexandra on Avenue H between 20th street and 22nd Street.
“With the closure of two community schools that’s a pretty big change. As a community we’re trying to force some discussion on this so that’s it’s the best decision for all three communities together,” Dyck says.
Dyck moved into the neighbourhood about 10 years ago and her five-year-old daughter attends King George.
She is part of a group trying to get the decision to close the school reversed.
One of their main concerns is that they haven’t been part of any consultation process with the school division or city despite being told they would be included, she said.
Saskatoon Public Schools told CTV News in an email that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected its ability to host community consultations.
“While the location of the new school facility has yet to be confirmed, we know these three existing school buildings are meaningful to the neighbours that surround them. Our school division has had informal discussions with some members of the community associations and neighbourhoods. Also, with the provincial government funding the new school facility, we must follow the ministry’s timeline for school projects.
“We hope to schedule formal consultation meetings with the three community associations before the end of the month. We will also extend an invitation to any potential community partners in the facility.”
However, Dyck said the meetings did not have to be in-person since most things have moved online anyway.
“I think that is a bit of an excuse. We’ve tried to create consultation by having Zoom meetings with MLAs, City Council members and school board trustees. Even at those meetings, it wasn’t taken as a consultation or a discussion, but it was more of a place to give excuses about why we’re not having that discussion,” Dyck said.
Karen Farmer is also part of the King George community group, having lived in the neighbourhood for 21 years.
She said the important role these schools play to keep the community connected is being overlooked.
“Many of the people in the core heritage communities don’t have access to programs. They can’t afford expensive hockey lessons and dance classes and they really rely on the schools and they’re an important part of our community,” Farmer said.
The green space and open field and hockey rink serves as a meeting place for many, she said.
Beyond the Zoom meeting and the suggestions which emerge, Farmer says they are considering a letter writing campaign, a possible petition as well as getting more exposure on social media to gather support for their cause.