Waverley West parents thrilled with new schools, but question other commitments

The province green lighting five new schools in the budget, and will shelve precious plans to use public private partnerships.

2 of 5 new schools announced in Monday's budget will be in Waverley West

Janzen is thrilled two new schools are coming to her neighbourhood. (Jeff Stapleton)

Parents in Waverley West are thrilled the province has committed to building two new schools in their neighbourhood, but some say there's still more to do in the area. 

Jill Hollosi heard the news in the parking lot of the Save On Foods in Bridgwater, and the mother of a five-month-old called the announcement "fantastic."

"This is great for my family … you want your school, your soccer field all to be withing walking distance," said Hollosi.

If they are going to increase the amount of schools in the area, they should also make it more bus accessible- Victoria Mealy

Charlene Janzen's daughter is in Grade 4 at Bonnycastle School in the Pembina Trails School Division. Janzen says their current schools are bursting at the seams.

"We are so overcrowded … so it will be nice to have two schools. It would be good for my oldest daughter too, who is going into Grade 7."

In Waverley West, Victoria Mealy is looking forward to shovels going in the ground, but thinks schools are only part of the solution. 

"I mean maybe they will also consider putting in more bus routes in this area too," she said. 

"Because if they are going to increase the amount of schools in the area, they should also make it more bus accessible for high school kids."

In addition to the K-8 and Grades 9-12 schools in Waverley West there are three more new schools slated for Manitoba in this budget.

Two K-8 schools will be built in Brandon and the Winnipeg School Division. Another K-5 school has been promised for the Seven Oaks division.

More schools good, more money better

While the Manitoba Teachers Society says the new schools are good news, they're still critical of the Pallister Government's decision to raise K-12 funding by just 0.5 per cent — well below inflation. 

"There was only six million dollars worth of new money injected. That is absolutely pitiful," said Norm Gould, president of the Manitoba Teachers' Society.

"Our student count is booming within the province and our kids need more resources not less. And it's important to have a lower class size and a better relationship between teachers and students."

Despite concerns about the below-inflation-funding-increase Gould is pleased the province is streamlining the existing model for bulk purchasing of material and using modular building designs across all the construction projects to keep costs down. 

The total cost of the new schools won't be known until after the work has been tendered.

Chris Sigurdson, chair of the Louis Riel School Board, criticized the locations for the news schools Monday, saying his school division is the fastest-growing in the city but was left off the list.

He said Sage Creek should have been a priority because the development's existing K-8 school is at capacity.

"It's disappointing for the people who live there," Sigurdson said. "We're doing all we can to make sure nobody has to be bussed but that's going to be a real possibility if there isn't an announcement soon."

On top of repeated requests for a new school, the division has asked for portable classrooms at Sage Creek but were denied, Sigurdson said.

Winnipeg School Division board chair Sherri Rollins retweeted the statement, adding a call on the premier to explain why the five locations made the cut.

It is not clear if the two new schools announced for Waverley West are in Pallister's Fort Whyte riding or in the St. Norbert riding of fellow Progressive Conservative MLA Jon Reyes.

About the Author

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Marianne has always had a passion for seeking the truth. She began her career anchoring and reporting at CKX Brandon. From there she worked in both TV news and current affairs at CBC Saskatoon. For the past 25 years Marianne has worked in Winnipeg, both in radio and television. She was formerly a teacher in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

With files from Sean Kavanagh