By Greg Price
Taber Mennonite School may have found a home for its physical education classes for the 2017/2018 school year.
The school has been utilizing the D.A. Ferguson School gymnasium to meet its curriculum requirements for physical education. As D.A. Ferguson will be under goingrenovations for that school year, it leaves Taber Mennonite School scrambling for a new location.
Phil Johansen, associate superintendent of finance and operations for Horizon School Division had earlier approached the Taber Recreation board about the possibility of renting out the Taber Community Centre gymnasium.
The town currently does not have a joint-use agreement with the schools, but in the past has worked with school divisions when modernizations have occurred, like with St. Mary’s School back in 2002.
“I don’t necessarily think they’d be looking to get access to that facility for free. We understand it costs money to run a facility and clean a facility much like with our facilities, we have policies that specify a cost-recovery basis. But if there was any type of help that could be offered, it would be welcomed to help out Taber Mennonite School’s budget a little bit,” said Johansen at the Taber Recreation Board’s July 11 meeting.
Administration has worked with the Taber Mennonite School since its last meeting in June and has proposed a proposal of bookings for 100 different sessions during the school year in question in which the cost would be $3,096.60.
The school has not booked Fridays and is willing to work around other rentals to gain access to the community centre.
“We did eliminate the Fridays because we have a lot of events on the Fridays, so we took the Fridays off the table. It used to be 80 minutes, but we reduced them down to 60 minutes. There is some potential there in September and October along with the spring months where they might go outside (for physical education,” said Aline Holmen, director of recreation for the Town of Taber.
Johansen highlighted that with a possible successful Southern Alberta Summer Games bid coming up for 2018, perhaps the Town of Taber and the school division could reach a mutually-beneficial situation where Horizon could lend its facilities to the town for the Games.
“D.A. Ferguson and W.R. Myers gyms would probably be off limits for next summer (due to renovations), however in terms of basketball, we have the Barnwell gym, Dr. Hamman and L.T. Westlake and Central School gyms with volleyball extensions,” said Johansen.
“I can talk with the facilities manager and as long as we know in advance to try and schedule to make those facilities available and of course a fee is attached to those that we’d be willing to waive or reduce it to any custodial fees we may have.”
Each school has its own separate budget under the Horizon School Division umbrella in which Johansen noted Taber Mennonite School likely could not absorb the $3096.60 fee itself, with Horizon likely needing to access is decanting budget involved with the modernization itself.
“The way we structure our budgets is we receive our funding from Alberta Education and then we have a funding model where we allocate staffing and then allocate a certain number of dollars to each site, mostly based on a per-pupil basis to try and make it somewhat equitable to the schools,” said Johansen. “Taber Mennonite School has only been in existence for a few years, where other schools have had some time to develop some reserves.”
Town councillor and recreation board member Randy Sparks was hesitant about granting any sort of waiver until something was drafted in a joint-use agreement if the town does end up needing Horizon School Division facilities for a successful bid for the 2018 Southern Alberta Summer Games in 2018.
“I hate to say this, but it’s very nice there are some individuals within Horizon who are dangling a carrot in front of the rec board saying ‘maybe we will let you use our facilities in the future.’ I don’t like any grey areas in any part of my life, I prefer to have an agreement down in writing to make sure we know that is available,” said Sparks. “I believe the division would do that, but I would like to have an assurance instead of just a maybe.”
Johansen noted he would confer with Horizon school board members prior to its August meeting to ensure a joint-use agreement.
Holmen confirmed Taber Mennonite School was already booked into the time frames requested from September to June for the 2017/2018 school year.
Any sort of waiver of fees would contingent on an agreement being drafted between the town and Horizon School Division.
A motion was passed unanimously by the recreation board recommend to council that the Taber Mennonite School be authorized to use the Taber Community Centre gymnasium for the months listed in the request and authorize a $1,096.60 set reduction in the rental fee, contingent on a joint-use agreement being drafted for the 2017/2018 school year.