Importance of education system cast into spotlight with academic results survey

In the real estate world, the phrase “location, location, location” often arises. Referring to the amenities around a home rather than the home itself, having a good school nearby is often near the top of the list for many buyers.

“The most important thing for me was not that there was a school, but that there were several nearby schools,” said northwest Calgary resident Pamela Haskell. “Because there is so much specialization with programs and charter schools, I didn’t want to count on having a school available only to see it become [an immersion school] the next year. A few schools in the area opens up the choices.”

In a recent Fraser Institute survey showcasing the relative quality of schools in Alberta, Calgary schools claimed three of the top five spots in the province, with Rundle College, Webber and West Island College claiming the second, third and fifth spots, respectively. Calgary’s public schools also fared well, with Sir Winston Churchill, Springbank and Western Canada all sitting in the top 10 provincewide.

With several Calgary schools benefiting from modernization projects and the satellite communities of Airdrie, Chestermere and Cochrane all opening new schools this fall, more residents than ever can appreciate the value of living in close proximity to a school.

“It’s actually more valuable than we realized,” said Haskell. “Entirely by accident, we ended up next to a high-demand charter school that takes students by lottery and buses them in from all over the city. It wasn’t a draw for us because we weren’t thinking about specific programs yet, but it would be for others.”

Several new Calgary communities are also slated to see their neighbourhoods add a place of learning. Come 2016, residents in Evanston, Saddle Ridge, Copperfield, New Brighton, Royal Oak/Rocky Ridge will see new schools opened in their community.

According to Haskell, the benefits to having a nearby school apply even in the event your own children don’t attend.

“Schools draw new families to the area, which is important to keeping a neighborhood vibrant. And I think even if the kids live in other areas and are bused in, it helps the local businesses to have more people passing through. And, of course, playgrounds, green space, slower traffic and bus service are all good things that come with schools.”