Rural Alberta community exploring scholarship initiative to keep families in town

An Alberta village is providing a monetary incentive for households to remain in — or come to — city.

On Friday, Forestburg council introduced that yearly spent at Forestburg Faculty will earn a scholar $1,000 towards their post-secondary training.

For instance, a scholar in Grade 11 this 12 months will graduate with $2,000. A scholar in Kindergarten will finally get $12,000 upon commencement.

Dwight Dibben, chief administrative officer for the Village, mentioned he hopes it’s an encouragement for college students to pursue a better training.

“Will probably be an enticement for present college students and households to remain right here, and in addition an financial driver that will deliver different households, entrepreneurs and companies right here.

“With each problem comes alternatives and we need to see these alternatives manifest themselves right here… not down the highway — not out of province and never out of nation,” Dibben mentioned.

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The announcement of the Kirschman Bursary Program can be a possibility for the village itself. The close by mine and Battle River Producing Station closed in 2017 and a sizeable portion of the workforce went to seek out jobs elsewhere — and took their youngsters with them.

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“We mentioned, ‘We’re going to turn into an financial growth council,’” mentioned Mayor Blaise Younger.

“We now have attracted one business (associated to bio-incineration) to assist stabilize the group and enhance our tax base. However, one of many large points is our declining faculty numbers.”

Principal Gordon Thompson mentioned class sizes have dwindled. Within the final 5 years, 1 / 4 of the scholars have left.

Thompson mentioned extra college students are graduating this 12 months than there are Kindergarten college students coming in.

“The fact is, in most rural areas, we’ve got a declining inhabitants. Cities are getting larger and rural spots are getting smaller,” Thompson mentioned. “We’re hoping to vary that. Working with the Village (on bursaries like this) is necessary.”

Younger mentioned although the group continues to be rising population-wise and business-wise, the shortage of school-aged kids is “a bit scary.”

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“In the event you wouldn’t have a Ok-12 faculty, it is rather troublesome to draw funding and business,” he mentioned. “We now have conversations with a number of companies and industries they usually ask ‘What’s the faculty?’ With out the highschool, it will be very troublesome.”

Shrinking rural faculty numbers is an issue all through Alberta. Younger mentioned different jurisdictions are keeping track of the success and final result of the bursary, and will discover an identical path if it really works.

“The potential of shedding [the school] just isn’t acceptable. We’ll do all the pieces to avoid wasting this faculty,” Younger mentioned. “If we will put extra kids on this faculty, the funding shall be price it. We’ll develop significantly within the subsequent few years.”

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The bursary is a monetary reward to the Village from the property of a neighborhood farming household who wished to help upcoming generations.

“The Kirschman’s have been group builders all their lives. They have been concerned in so many aspects of Forestburg. One of many final items of group constructing was this [bursary],” Dibben mentioned.

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An advisory board shall be established within the coming months to formalize program particulars and to safe further funding sources and donations for the bursary.

© 2021 World Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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