By Greg Price
There has been a request by the principal of Taber Mennonite School to the town asking if the school can have access to the Taber Community Centre as the gymnasium they have used in the past will not be available next school year.
“We are currently at 60 per cent of the design phase of the modernization of D.A. Ferguson Middle School with hopes that construction and modernization of that school will begin in September. Currently Taber Mennonite School utilizes that gymnasium for their physical education programming. With the school being modernized, they will not have access to that,” said Philip Johansen, finance and operations associate superintendent for Horizon School Division, in a presentation to the Taber Recreation board at its June 1 meeting. “W.R. Myers gym will be shared by both W.R. Myers and D.A. Ferguson and it’s solidly booked. There has also been some juggling across the street at Central School gym. We have made other requests for access for facilities within town as well with some churches, but we haven’t received word back yet.”
The school has made requests for some physical education blocks within the Taber Community Centre for Mondays to Thursdays.
“She (principal Crystal McGregor) has indicated to me they would be very willing to be flexible in their scheduling to accommodate any events that are already scheduled at the Civic Centre,” said Johansen. “I know Taber Mennonite School does not necessarily have the budget to pay in much of rental fees. That does not necessarily mean there is no money available to help offset some of those costs. The school division just passed a new policy for joint-use of our facilities with various community groups with what we would charge with different tiers.”
In the warmer spring and fall months, Johansen noted Taber Mennonite School could take its physical education classes outside, but in the fall and winter, use of the Taber Community Centre would prove helpful for Taber Mennonite School.
“They could go to the playing fields and things like that, but in the winter they are wondering what they are going to do with themselves,” said Johansen.
Aline Holmen, director of recreation for the Town of Taber, noted there will be several advanced bookings for the community centre in the winter months, such as walking groups, science fairs, wedding requests, the resiliency postcard campaign, craft shows, APEX, graduations etc., but the town could be capable of working out an arrangement.
“There is a lot, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time that would be available. Every week there would be some hours that would be available,” said Holmen. “We do not currently have a joint-use agreement with schools.”
Physical education classes at Taber Mennonite School are split between the middle school and high school grades, according to Holmen.
Town councillor and Taber Recreation Board member Randy Sparks inquired what kind of financial commitment it would be to give the school a waiver of fees in its requested time frames for the auditorium.
Initial cursory calculations if the town was charging $34 an hour at 120 hours requested, the cost would be $4,080.
“It would be nice to know the exact hours that would be needed with what the cost would be. There is a cost to run that facility and they need it, but if they are willing to share some of the cost, it would be good to look into it,” said Sparks.
Taber Recreation Board passed a motion to direct administration to look into costs associated with the Taber Mennonite School’s request to use the gymnasium at the Taber Community Centre and come back to a future recreation board meeting to make a decision.