WCPS closes the book on religious class

Wolf Creek Public Schools trustees approve elimination of religious classes for next year

A practice that was allowed in some area schools will be discontinued come this fall.

Trustees for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) decided at its meeting June 15 that programming which focused on religion — primarily Christian-based education — will no longer be made available.

Originally started sometime in the 1980s and developed in conjunction with Lacombe County, the Christian education classes have been offered by some schools that now make up a portion of the institutions in WCPS.

According to WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell, there are currently seven schools that provide the optional program available to students in Grades 5 and 6.

“Trustees decided to cancel it, so beginning in September the program will be discontinued,” Lovell said in an interview, citing the program was allowed in public school under Section 50 of the School Act.

“A lot of the discussion among trustees reflected on the ongoing concerns that have been expressed over the years and the decision reflects the changes that have been seen lately in the delivery of education.”

He added the cancelling of the program centred on three main areas among trustees, in spite of the program being well-designed.

Among them was the fact the program had last been revised in 1991, the challenges involved with the ‘opting-out’ policy and the limited scope of the curriculum.

“In opting-out, with the student being removed to do something else, parents questioned the value of the time being spent on that activity,” Lovell said.

“With today’s view of the world, there was a concern about limiting the exposure to different perspectives.”

Also playing a part in the discussion that trustees had to keep in mind is a new item in the collective agreement with teachers.

Lovell explained that starting with the new school year, teachers will be limited to a prescribed number of assignable hours.

“It’s the new reality that trustees had to be mindful of since just because the program was instructed by someone else, the teacher still had to supervise the students and that would be calculated within those assignable hours,” he said.

“This decision will help to mitigate that pressure and trustees also felt it was time to go in a different direction.”