Just a few days after Ottawa's public elementary schools were nearly shut down by a teacher walkout, the province announced that four of the city's most overcrowded public schools will be getting millions of dollars to expand.
Last spring, public school boards across the province were asked to come up with a list of high priority funding needs, and Ottawa's list came out to 15.
Monday's announcement tackled the top five, including:
- $4.6 million for a new addition at Mutchmor Public School in the Glebe.
- $15.4 million for a new addition at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School in Barrhaven.
- $10.6 million for Earl of March Secondary School in Kanata.
- $5.3 million for South March Public School in Kanata North.
- $12 million for a new school in Kanata North.
Longfields-Davidson Heights, which gets the largest portion of the funding, is only five years old but already has more than 20 portables. Classes are often held in the gym and hallways.
The MPP for the area, Progressive Conservative Lisa McLeod, said she was pleased with the Longfields announcement, but questioned the timing after last week's unrest.
"In terms of when this announcement was made, I think most people would recognize it was to have a positive message from the government on a day where they quite frankly had probably the worst week of their life in education last week," she said.
Liberal Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, who made the announcement Monday on behalf of the provincial government, said the timing wasn't political.
"Absolutely not. This is a normal cycle where we announce capital priority funding for our schools," he said. "No doubt that these are tough times right now in terms of our relationship with the public school teachers and support staff, but I am an optimist. I am confident that conversations will result in a better solution."
Broadview Public School in Nepean, which needs about $7.5 million in building repairs, is now third in line for funding.
The local union leader for the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Peter Giuliani, said Monday that it's unrealistic to expect any new talks, and that the union will soon be giving its members directions on whether or not they'll work to rule.
The high school teachers' union, meanwhile, has decided not to continue with extracurricular activities.