Students crowding into classrooms across Saskatchewan next week will need to wait for relief.

With just days before the start of the school year, many portable classrooms bought by the provincial government still haven't arrived.

Last year, the Ministry of Education ordered 37 portables to take the strain off class sizes in the province's busiest schools. But now, the portables won't be ready for weeks, if not months. Some divisions will have to wait until November to get their new portables.

This means students will need to take classes in libraries and multi-purpose rooms while they wait.

Regina Catholic School Division spokesperson Noah Wernikowski said some schools in his region are at 150 to 160 per cent capacity.

"The reason these schools needed these portables in the first place was that there's a shortage of space," he said. "With a shortage of space, it's difficult to find areas to house these classes in."

Calgary flooding

According to the Ministry of Education, there were a number of reasons behind the delay. Chief among those reasons was this summer's flooding in Calgary.

Buildings damaged and destroyed by water needed to be quickly replaced, and manufacturers generally put Calgary projects at the top of their list.

Deputy Education Minister Dan Florizone said that's understandable.

"Had it been the flip of these circumstances, if we had faced the flooding and needed the portables, we would have looked to Alberta to assist us," he said. "So, this is just, in part, being a very good neighbour."

Situation avoided

However, some school regions said the entire situation could have been avoided.

In previous years, individual school divisions ordered their own portable classrooms with money provided by the provincial government. But this year, the Ministry of Education was in charge of ordering portables for every region.

Regina Public School Board chair Katherine Gagne said if ordering was left in her division's control, none of this would have happened.

"We raised the flag with the ministry in the spring to allow boards to manage their own facility inventory," she said. "We were told, 'no, we're doing our own process.' So we abided by it, and here we sit in the situation where our portables won't be ready for us."

Deputy Minister Florizone said there was a good reason for the province changing its ordering process. He said that buying in bulk is considerably cheaper.

"While some of the larger school divisions could get fairly good pricing, what we were after was to get better collective pricing as a province," he said.