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Calgary National Sports School Plan Lacks Transparency. Will It Involve Corporate Sponsorship?

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You may recall my 3 part series on the Calgary Board of Education's new policy to allow classrooms to be named for donors?

It is becoming clear that this policy change was made in order to fund the building of a new National Sports School.

Richard Cuthbertson of The Calgary Herald reported on November 12th that "The CBE will be relying on its charitable trust, Education Matters, to raise $6 million for the project" leading to speculation that classroom sponsorship will be in the mix in order to fund raise these kind of funds. Education Matters is the CBE's charitable trust that has been funded to the tune of $750,000 per year by the school board and was founded in 2003. It's primary functions to date include fundraising, grants to schools and programs as well as student scholarships.

It's important to note that the provincial government is in charge of funding and building schools so this plan is quite outside the box. Yet to date, ARTICS (Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Calgary Schools) in a blog post cannot find any motion by our publicly elected trustees to fund such a project or to request funding for the project from the Government. It's also important to remind you that trustees did not motion for the policy change to allow donor recognition to include classroom naming.

Trustee Sheila Taylor tried to add a motion to the agenda at the November 6 public meeting to discuss if a public survey should be conducted on the donor recognition policy (classroom sponsorship) and was defeated 5-2. Yes, a debate over whether a motion should be added to the agenda was defeated. The same trustee brought forward a motion at the November 27th meeting to ask administration to provide further information on previous motions made in relation the National Sports School. This time she was able to get the motion on the agenda (4-3) and then the motion was defeated 5-2. A motion requesting more information, defeated 5-2.

This new $9 Million school will be built for 300 students at Canada Olympic Park, Calgary's home for many Olympic events in 1988 and still a hub for world cups in luge, bobsled, skeleton, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping and even mountain biking in the summer. There is no doubt this is the perfect venue for such a school and will help make Calgary a magnet for Canada's world class athletes. Enrollment is currently 150.

While one might think, this is a creative way to build a school, and it is, the democratic process needs to be followed. It must be viewed through the lens of equity in Public Education. Information needs to be transparent if the public is expected to support it. After all, would a motion to fund such a school not pass 5-2?