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1 school, 1 junior high program to be closed by Edmonton Catholic


Edmonton Catholic Schools' board is closing a school and shutting down the junior high program at another. 

At a meeting Wednesday night, trustees approved the closure of St. Basil Catholic and the junior high program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

They will be closed at the end of the academic year. 

According to a statement by the board, enrolment has been falling for several years at St. Basil, where a Polish bilingual program receives funding tied to student numbers. According to a community impact report, 105 students have left the program in the last five years rather than transition to the next grade. Program participation is expected to decline another eight per cent by 2026. 

St. Basil also has "substantial" transportation and operating deficits, the board says. 

“The Polish Bilingual Program has not been financially viable over a number of years despite marketing and recruitment efforts by the Division. It is important that programs of choice be financially viable so as not to negatively impact the resources available to all Division students,” board chair Sandra Palazzo commented.

The closure means an estimated 192 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 will be redesignated to their Catholic community schools. 

The division will save about $989,000 annually because of the closure, or roughly the base funding of 190 students, it says. 

St. Basil originally opened in north-central Edmonton in 1952, at one point serving 700 elementary and junior high students. 

It ceased operating as a community school in 2001. 


Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) is the designated Catholic community school for families in some of Edmonton's oldest south-central neighbourhoods. 

The closure of its junior high program will affect an estimated 67 Grade 7-to-9 students who will be redesignated to either St. Brendan or Louis St. Laurent Junior Senior High School. 

Students who are enrolled in OLMC's sports academy will be able to apply to another specialty program or their designated community school. 

Erin Hazen said her son in Grade 8 is "really bummed out" by the news. 

"He really loves his friends. He really loves his teachers. We chose this school specifically because of the size. He had options for other hockey academies that we were exploring, but we really found a connection here at Mount Carmel."

The decision was made "to provide the best possible programming choices to students in the regular junior high program," the board said. 

"OLMC Academy students, through their program of choice, are getting a highly tailored experience that speaks to their passions. The 30 non-academy students who are left behind each afternoon only get to experience a limited choice of offerings because of the difficulty of configuring and delivering cross-graded junior high complementary courses with very limited staff,” Palazzo said.

"I understand it. I do truly understand it. I listened to all of the information that was provided. I recognize the financial ramifications," Hazen added. 

"But there is a brain-heart disconnect." 

A community impact report in January found the closure would leave just two Catholic junior high schools in the south-central mature neighbourhoods, and mean that OLMC junior high students who wish to continue a Catholic education will need to travel outside of their community. 

The school will continue to offer K-6 programming. In September, it will be bringing in a Green STEM program. 


The division began formally considering St. Basil's closure in December 2019. 

At the time, Edmonton Catholic Schools says families made it "clear that they did not want to remove the program." 

To have the discussion renewed within a year was disheartening, school council chair Katrina Semeniuk said. 

"In terms of timing, of turnaround, it's been really hard to swallow," she told CTV News Edmonton. 

"My family moved onto 105A Street specifically to attend this school for the long term. We were here for only four years, and we looked forward to having all four of our kids in the same school and being able to walk to school with their friends and their neighbours."

While again considering closing the school, the board looked at the projected growth of the neighbouring Blatchford community. The city estimates within the next three decades, Blatchford will have 500 to 600 students. ECSD believes its nearby underutilized community schools will benefit from the growth. 

During a public consultation process that launched in late 2021, the Catholic division says it received nearly 900 pieces of feedback on the closure proposals.


An earlier version of this story stated an estimated 67 students would be affected by the closure of the junio high program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In fact, the number is 87, according to a revision issued by Edmonton Catholic Schools. Top Stories

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