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Reservations to use municipal swimming pools

QUESTION POSED BY TOM KRIEPS

The use of municipal swimming pools (Bonnevoie and Belair) is currently restricted to individuals who have reserved a specific time slot. Reservations are made by telephone with the Bonnevoie swimming pool. Recently, however, the reservation system was temporarily overloaded. What's more, taking reservations by telephone is an antiquated approach. Would it be possible to introduce an online reservation system for swimming pool users?

RESPONSE PROVIDED BY ALDERWOMAN SIMONE BEISSEL

Once the cause of the overload was identified, a call centre with several hotlines was set up at the Bonnevoie swimming pool. To avoid peaks in reservations at the beginning of the week, users were advised to reserve weekend time slots at the Belair pool starting on Wednesday, and weekday time slots at the Bonnevoie pool starting on Monday. Setting up an online reservation system would have entailed significant costs, which the City felt were disproportionate, especially since things are expected to return to normal. The reservations system is working well for the time being.

New schedules for elementary schools

QUESTION POSED BY CHRISTA BRÖMMEL

The schedules for public elementary schools in Luxembourg City will be updated on 15 September 2021 further to a decision taken by the City of Luxembourg to ensure compliance with national legislation and to give children a longer midday break on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Guided study sessions are currently held on those days, before the midday break, for children in cycles 2 to 4, whereas from 15 September, they will only be held on Mondays and Wednesdays at the end of the school day for children in cycles 3 and 4. Parents were informed of these changes only about one month before the start of the summer holidays, and the letter that was sent to them was only in French, German and English. In the letter, parents were asked to enrol their children in guided study by 30 June.

How did parents react upon learning of these changes, and what questions and concerns did they raise? Has the City seen a correlation between the feedback it received and families' socio-economic status? What steps does the City plan to take so as not to worsen the quality of life for children from these families? Have the changes had an impact on registrations at foyerd scolaires (child care centres) and recreational clubs? Was a communication strategy (with a plan for handling reactions and questions) outlined prior to taking the decision? Has the college of aldermen considered setting up a telephone helpline and/or an FAQ page on the City's website to obtain direct feedback from parents?

In my view, the information should have been communicated to parents in a format other than a letter, and in other languages as well (most notably Portuguese). Why can't parents enrol their children for only one session of guided study a week? Does the college of aldermen plan to reconsider, in consultation with the Regional Directorate, the policy on homework, bearing in mind that the precise instructions set forth in the ministerial circular do not seem to be applied in the same way by all teaching staff? Has an analysis of the effects of the new schedules been conducted? When will it be made available, and has the college of aldermen considered involving all parents, teaching and socio-educational staff and children in the process, for instance through a survey?

RESPONSE PROVIDED BY ALDERWOMAN COLETTE MART

The Service Enseignement (Education Department) has received many questions, both in writing and verbally, especially from families from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds. The questions concerning the changes in school schedules are often closely related to the changes in guided study schedules. Many queries are from parents who want to know if the City can also provide supervision for the siblings of children enrolled in guided study for the entire duration of the guided study sessions. Siblings who are not enrolled in guided study can register with a foyer scolaire. When children who are enrolled in guided study are also registered with a foyer scolaire, the trip back to the foyer scolaire, after the guided study, is organised by this centre. As such, parents can pick up all of their children (siblings included) at the foyer scolaire either at 17:15, or at 18:00 or 18:30. The cost may be slightly higher for some families. Prices are set based on parents' income: low-income families pay very little and, for families who can't afford the expense, the City establishes a social services file to cover the entire cost of registering their children with a foyer scolaire.

The City does not provide childcare in schools during guided study. Children who are not registered with a foyer scolaire and whose parents cannot pick them up at school at midday can register with a foyer scolaire for the lunch break. In urgent situations where parents who cannot pick up their children at midday but would like to take their children home for lunch, the parents are asked to contact the person in charge of the relevant foyer scolaire so that a personalised solution can be found. The City asks that parents abide by the new schedule, and that they try to make suitable arrangements. At schools, supervision is provided by teachers for ten minutes after the end of the school day. At the moment, it is still difficult to assess the impact of the changes on foyer scolaire registrations. As regards the impact on activities at recreational clubs, I can only speak about the LASEP at this time. Children in cycles 1 and 2 can attend LASEP classes from 16:00 to 17:00, if they are not enrolled in guided study. The City is making every effort to offer LASEP activities in each district. One of its objectives is to improve children's swimming skills through the LASEP, in collaboration with the association "Swimming Luxembourg a.s.b.l.". Collaborations with other sports clubs (e.g. badminton clubs) are also possible. Where other clubs are concerned, children can take part in their activities on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There is no obligation for parents to enrol their children in guided study, and in all cases, the City will not accept the enrolment of children who do not need help. Children who only need adult supervision should be registered with a foyer scolaire.

Parents were informed of the changes as early as possible, that is to say, once the working group had completed its work and the college of aldermen and the municipal council had taken the necessary decisions. No claims were lodged with the college of aldermen. No parent committees approached me in this matter. Nor were any objections or complaints lodged by parent representatives on the School Commission. One of the members of the working group was a parent representative, so parents' views were taken into account.

According to the Service Enseignement, parents are generally satisfied with the extension of the lunch break. For some children, especially children with special needs, the longer lunch break means that they won't get tired too quickly. The City will examine requests on a case-by-case basis, with a view to helping parents as best it can and finding suitable solutions.

It is regrettable that some teachers have announced that they will no longer be organising guided study. The City would appreciate the Regional Directorate's support in heightening teachers' awareness of the importance of guided study. I hope that the new trainees and teachers will help to ensure that we can continue to provide this important service and, where the changes themselves are concerned, I am counting on teachers' cooperation and understanding.

The nature and content of homework assistance was one of the topics addressed by the working group. In that regard, guidelines were adopted in collaboration with the Regional Directorate. An assessment is planned after three years. The City will need to ascertain whether its departments managed the change appropriately. The changes must be implemented next autumn, and we must be in a position to respond quickly to any problems that may arise. As such, the new school schedule will apply from the start of the autumn term. On the other hand, the changes affecting guided study will only apply after the autumn break (Toussaint). The college of aldermen will be able to provide more detailed information following the vote on the definitive school organisation arrangements.

Consolidation of land in Rue Kohlenberg / Rue des Champs

QUESTION POSED BY CATHY FAYOT

A motion to consolidate the land located at numbers 84 and 86, Rue Kohlenberg, and at number 13, Rue des Champs, was adopted by the municipal council on 14 December 2020. The members of the Commission du développement urbain et économique (Urban and Economic Development Commission), who examined the project at their meeting on 2 December 2020, were informed that the reason for the request was "to join three plots of land to create a new building lot to accommodate a new building", and that all the plots in question were occupied by existing buildings. No pictures of these buildings were produced.

In the meantime, the residence located at 13, Rue des Champs – which was built in 2016 – has been demolished. The residence in question was a massive building, of good quality and in good condition, with dressed stone window frames and a copper-covered roof. The demolition of this building was a total waste of energy and material. Prior to the demolition of this building, were any sustainable development criteria, environmental protection criteria or resource and energy management criteria taken into account? These question are all the more relevant since we are currently facing a shortage of raw materials as well as issues involving the disposal of construction waste. How does the City intend to prevent such a situation from occurring again in the future through dialogue with the owners of the land in question, and more particularly by incorporating the existing buildings in a new project?

RESPONSE PROVIDED BY THE MAYOR, LYDIE POLFER

The consolidation project that you are referring to was approved by the municipal council on 14 December 2020, as it was found to comply with all the relevant provisions in force. The City cannot prevent a building from being demolished unless it is a protected building. In this particular case, the demolition permit for the residence was posted on 14 October 2020. The law of 18 December 2015 amending the law of 21 March 2012 on waste, as amended, stipulates that "steps to prevent waste should be taken into account" whenever a building is to be demolished. The various fractions of waste produced at demolition sites should be collected separately. Since 2017, all new buildings must comply with the AAA energy class rating, and this also applies to the new project involving the above-mentioned plots. The City always seeks to engage in dialogue with landowners to discuss alternatives to demolition. Sometimes, owners may decide not to demolish a building, and to instead renovate it and incorporate it in a new project However, there is no legal basis for the City to compel owners to act in a certain way.