North

Whitehorse's Golden Horn school is almost out of room, parents hear

The school goes from kindergarten to grade 7 and for each of the last two years it's had two kindergarten classes. The government has promised there will be two kindergarten classes again next school year.

'It's, in our mind, the best education. It's why we live on this end of town,' said one parent at meeting

Government officials answered questions from concerned parents on Thursday, at Golden Horn Elementary School in Whitehorse. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Parents hoping to send their children to Whitehorse's Golden Horn Elementary School had a chance on Thursday to hear how the government was dealing with a space crunch at the school. 

Officials from Yukon's Department of Education held a meeting at the school, to answer questions and explain their plan to accommodate a larger population of students.

Kristen Hogan, chairperson for the Golden Horn school council, wrote two letters to Education Minister Tracey-Anne McPhee last winter, stressing the urgent need to deal with overcrowding.

"We are utilizing all available space, including using [a] boiler room closet as Reading Recovery room. Teaching is also happening in the supply room and a former storage room," Hogan wrote last February.

The school asked the government to bring in a portable classroom. A tender for the portable, with a budget of $400,000, was issued in May but assistant deputy minister Ben Yu Schott told Thursday's meeting there were no bids on the tender. A new tender will go out this month.

"It's definitely frustrating," said Hogan, about having to ask again for a portable. Hogan said she is more hopeful that a new tender will have better results.

However, a new portable would only be a short term solution.

The school is seeing high registration numbers from within its catchment zone, which covers a huge area south of the city centre, including the Annie Lake Road, Judas Creek, Marsh Lake and Cowley Creek.

2 kindergarten classes

The school goes from kindergarten to grade 7 and for each of the last two years it's had two kindergarten classes. The government has promised there will be two kindergarten classes again next school year.

"Every time we take on two kindergarten classes, we need a new classroom," said Hogan.

This is our school we want to send her to.- Colin Boyd, parent

The school council says right now, the school has enough classrooms but starting next year it won't. A portable would accommodate the need for another class next school year, but the school would need another portable every year for the next three years.

"We aren't bursting at the seams, but we can't continue to take on more students," said Hogan.

The government is not ready to expand the school because it says the registration numbers fluctuate and could drop in a couple of years. The government is looking at ways to change existing space within the school to make more useable classrooms.

About a dozen parents were at Thursday's meeting, and many of them will have children going to Golden Horn within the next few years.

"This is our school we want to send her to," said Colin Boyd, whose daughter is still a pre-schooler. "It's, in our mind, the best education. It's why we live on this end of town."

Lorraine Taillefer with the Education department said there is room for 36 kindergarten students with potential to expand to 44. If more than 44 kids are registered within the catchment area, there could be a lottery system to determine who gets a place.

Priority would be given to children who have siblings already in the school. The government couldn't provide any more details about how the lottery system would work.

Tailefer said a lottery system would happen only if all other options were exhausted.

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