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Livingstone Range School Division to move central office to Fort Macleod

Livingstone Range School Board will move central office from Claresholm to the vacant G.R. Davis building in Fort Macleod, subject to negotiation of an acceptable and affordable agreement with the Town of Fort Macleod.
At the school board’s Nov. 15 meeting, the process for deciding to move were laid out.
The division has a surplus building in Fort Macleod.
In March, the board decided that, given the present condition of the division office and maintenance facilities, the board requested senior administration investigate facility needs, costs, and potential options available for both the division office and maintenance facilities while also updating the designation of reserves available.
In June, the board decided that senior administration continue the investigation of cost factors for locations, possible partnerships and rational for modernization of central office and maintenance shops.
In September, the board decided to direct the superintendent to engage an independent facilitator to perform a feasibility study on all current and surplus administrative and maintenance facilities.
Based on that study, the recommendation was made to move the central office and maintenance facilities to Fort Macleod.
Chairman Brad Toone began the discussion by noting this conversation has been going on a long time, and a lot of time and effort has been put into it.
“It’s not something we do lightly,” Toone said. “I feel we’ve really taken our time with this.”
Toone added the board has received the information to make a decision, and is not rushing the decision.
“I struggle with this,” said trustee John McKee whose ward includes Claresholm, adding the board has to be careful how money not for students is spent.
There are two options: renovate the current building or upgrade and move to G.R. Davis, which is an empty school.
McKee asked what’s best for Claresholm, because a lot of its residents work at central office, and what’s best for the whole division.
“I represent this ward,” McKee said, noting a loss for Claresholm is a gain for Fort Macleod. “I am still concerned about the loss that will occur at this site.”
A feasibility study was done to look at cost and value.
“Do I look after my ward first or the whole division?” McKee asked. “I will be voting against this motion.”
Trustee Martha Ratcliffe, who is from Fort Macleod, said she would be less than honest if she did not say this was a coup for Fort Macleod.
Ratcliffe recognizes the impact on Claresholm. However, there are opportunities to partner with groups in Fort Macleod, this is good for the whole division, and Fort Macleod is more central.
Trustee Clara Yagos, who represents the west end of the division, said there is a cost factor travelling to and from the west end to Claresholm. Fort Macleod is more central so more can be done with meetings there, and she has to look at the division as a whole.
“I feel this is a positive move for us,” Yagos said.
Trustee Kristy Stevens, who also represents the west end, said it is about the students, not Claresholm or Fort Macleod.
“We really need to take that into consideration,” Stevens said.
“I’m excited about future partners,” said trustee Lori Hodges, who is from Fort Macleod, adding it is a big building so there is a lot of potential.
Trustee Shannon Scherger said she has to look at the division as a whole.
The feasibility study said school administrators were all for a more central location.
Learning support comes out of central office, and it would be more accessible in Fort Macleod because of its central location.
Toone noted he appreciated everything said.
“I’ve lost sleep over this decision,” Toone said. “Being from Claresholm and representing this area.”
Toone said the decision is not about one town versus another, it’s setting up a system for students to succeed.
The board then all voted in favour of moving to Fort Macleod except McKee who was opposed.