Seven Oaks School Division coping with space shortage
Growing population in north Winnipeg to blame for enrolment boom
A Winnipeg school division is dealing with a shortage of space, caused by a growing population, by closing multipurpose rooms, adding dozens of portable classrooms and sending students to schools farther away from home.
About 300 more students are enrolled in the Seven Oaks School Division this year compared to last year, meaning there will be about 11,000 students in total this year.
The increase is due in large part to more immigrant families moving to neighbourhoods in north Winnipeg, said superintendent Brian O'Leary.
"We're quite literally out of space. We have fewer square feet per people than any other school division in the province," O'Leary told CBC News on Wednesday.
The division has added 47 portable classrooms to its schools this year, but O'Leary said officials need even more space to accommodate the enrolment boom.
"We're taking away multipurpose facilities, science rooms, art rooms, computer labs and converting them to straight classrooms to manage," he said.
Some families whose children have attended Riverbend Community School say they are being forced to bus their kids to other schools in the division because there isn't enough space there.
That has some parents upset that they cannot walk with their children to school.
Education Minister Nancy Allan says she plans to meet with the Seven Oaks School Division soon.
The province has already announced plans to open a new K-8 school in the Amber Trails area by 2015.
But O'Leary said the enrolment numbers will only keep rising and new schools need to be built right away, or else Seven Oaks won't be able to meet the government's new caps on class sizes.