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EDMONTON - The union representing 3,000 Edmonton Public School Board employees is applauding a court decision halting the closure of three schools in Edmonton.

Strathern, Wellington and North Edmonton Parent Councils won a court injunction last night against the closure of schools in their neighbourhoods. The school board had been considering closing the schools because of low utilization rates.

CUPE Alberta President D’Arcy Lanovaz says the utilization rate, which measures the number of students per square foot of school space, is ‘flawed and unfair’. Lanovaz said the formula discriminated against schools with wide hallways or auditoriums.

“It’s a ridiculous system,” said Lanovaz. “Schools are tearing down sections of their buildings to get their utilization formula up.”

“But what the provincial formula doesn’t account for is the fact that neighbourhoods change over time,” said Lanovaz. “Just because there are not a lot of children in an area in 2005, it doesn’t mean that the same will be true in 2010.”

Lanovaz called on the provincial government to scrap the current formula.

“The formula destroys communities,” said Lanovaz. “It closes schools which drives families even further away, making it harder to revitalize neighbourhoods later on.”

“Once a school is closed, it becomes a lot harder to reopen them later.”