School space crisis in Edmonton to force 'difficult' decisions
Explosive growth outside Anthony Henday Drive overwhelms school district
What’s being described as a “crisis” for school spaces in some of the Edmonton’s newest neighbourhoods is the focus a series of public meetings that start tonight.
Edmonton Public Schools have gained an additional 6,600 students over the past three years, mostly in newer areas outside Anthony Henday Drive.
- Older students moved out of overcrowded schools
- Catholic students find way to stay at crammed public schools
While nine new schools have been built in those areas, they cannot accommodate the explosive growth. Overcrowding means some schools are holding classes in gyms and libraries.
“The crisis is that we simply have reached the full finite capacity of those buildings and we've exceeded them in most areas and all those new schools,” said Lorne Parker, the board’s managing director of planning.
Portables have been put up at schools, but board superintendent Darrel Robertson says that isn’t enough to solve the space crunch.
Robertson says decisions have to be made by February about attendance boundaries and grade configurations by February because pre-enrolment starts in March.
“There are some very difficult decisions that have to be made,” he said. “What’s happening now isn’t sustainable.
“We can’t keep the attendance areas and everything the same as they are right now and be able to accommodate all the children that live in those areas.”
Robertson said some students will have to be bused to other schools next year.
"It's a shorter-term solution," he said. "The best solution is more schools."
Public meetings start tonight at Jasper Place School and continue over the next two weeks.
Parents can also fill out an online survey and 3,000 people have already done that.
Robertson says the next step will involve consulting with parents in mature neighbourhoods on how to consolidate and modernize schools.