Stratford's 14-classroom expansion planning continues

Parents of students in Stratford Elementary and Glen Stewart Primary schools are carefully following details of the planned 14-classroom expansion.

'That's what parents asked for, they said do something now'

Stratford Elementary is adding 14 extra classrooms to help deal with the overcrowding issues for both Stratford schools. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Parents of students in Stratford Elementary and Glen Stewart Primary schools are closely following the details of the planned 14-classroom expansion announced in November meant to alleviate overcrowding at the town's two schools.

A planning committee is figuring out what the $6 million expansion will look like, the province's Public Schools Branch (PSB) said Tuesday. 

"We're getting to the phases of looking at what those internal designs could look like, what's the impact on the community through the construction phase," said Parker Grimmer, the PSB's director.

I just feel that that's going to fill up relatively quick.— Jill Burridge

"We're taking all the information from all these stakeholders who have expertise — staff, parents who send their kids to those schools every day. They need to have a voice."

Grimmer said the 14 classrooms will be added onto Stratford Elementary and ready by 2019.

'We don't trust the process'

Jill Burridge said that she and other parents are concerned that the expansion is a "band-aid" solution to a long-term problem and won't be enough.

About seven of the new classrooms will be used to deal current overcrowding and the rest would help with the schools' projected growth, says Public Schools Branch director Parker Grimmer. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Even though the new classrooms will free up space once they are built, Burridge believes they won't be enough based on Stratford's own population projections.

"Just looking at the population growth of Stratford, much of the growth being young families, I just feel that that's going to fill up relatively quick," Burridge said.

"We just feel that if we don't do something directly, nothing will be done and we just don't trust the process, I don't think." 

The consensus at a recent meeting among parents was that they need to start lobbying government now for more, Burridge said, adding some parents want a brand new school for the town. 

"Long term for me is not that far off, and to get capital projects such as a new school through government takes a lot of time," Burridge said. "So we're trying to give ourselves time here."

Deal with current overcrowding

This isn't the time to be thinking about a long-term plan for Stratford, Grimmer said, adding the branch's focus is on the 14-classroom expansion.

'I think that we've got big problems down the road,' says parent Jill Burridge, who is concerned the 14 classrooms new won't be enough considering Stratford's rapid growth projections. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"We had an urgency to do something now that came out of the school review process. That's what parents asked for, they said do something now. And we felt it was really important that we move forward with this," Grimmer said.

No one from the Glen Stewart or Stratford Elementary Home and School groups could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Stratford Home and School has invited parents to a special meeting later this month to talk about what needs to happen long term to better deal with its growing population.

Glen Stewart Primary and Stratford Elementary behind it are both currently over capacity. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

With files from Steve Bruce