By J.W. Schnarr
The method in which schools use rural addressing as a way to track down students was a topic of discussion during a recent Municipal District of Taber council meeting, but according to school board officials it is the province, and not local districts, that make those decisions, says the head of one local school division.
“Horizon School Division, they still go by our legal land description. They do not go by a range road–township rural address,” said Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring during M.D. Council’s Jan. 26 meeting.
“If your child registers in school, they want the (description). Well, there could be six homes there.”
“I think that has to be addressed.”
During a Feb. 6 interview, Horizon School Division School Superintendent Wilco Tymensen said ultimately, due to province-wide integration of information systems, changes to how addresses are collected must take place at the provincial level. He said the division collects exactly what is needed for those various information systems as required provincially.
“The province moved forward with a formatting structure called (Provincial Approach to Student Information). It used to be that all data was collected at a school division level and it stayed there,” he said. “We would export information as Alberta Education needed it. All 62 school divisions are now integrated into one system, and there’s real-time data exchange between the province and jurisdictions.”
Elfring said he was in favour of the division using more than one system for collecting addresses for children in the area.
“I can’t see why they wouldn’t have both,” he said.
“This system is so simple, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t (use it),” said Deputy Reeve Dwight Tolton.
“Google has it, it will show you what range road you’re on,” said Elfring.
Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan said Google information is provided to the company by M.D. administration.
“All formatting is done the way the province says we have to do it,” said Tymensen. “If the county changes something, and it is not compatible with the provincial approach, we would have to maintain the provincial approach.”
He noted the province used to rely on Post Office box addresses to determine where students were located, but the lack of information provided by a simple P.O. box made them reconsider the practice.
“That doesn’t tell us anything,” he said. ‘It tells us where to mail a report card, but where do they actually live?”
Tymensen said in dealing with parents, administrators do often ask for multiple forms of contact, including mailing addresses, street addresses, and legal land descriptions.
“Different systems require different information,” he said. “You can’t mail a report card to the (legal land description). We can mail it to a P.O. box.”
“We do try to collect as much information from parents as we can, so we have the right information when we need it,” he added.