Kanata school overcrowding needs long-term fix: parents
Parents sitting on the council of a Kanata school operating at double capacity say they understand the need for short-term fixes to chronic overcrowding, but say they hope the school board can work towards long-term fixes.
School board officials met with a group of parents Wednesday night to address interim proposals to alleviate rising enrolment at four schools in particular: Katimavik Elementary School and Roch Carrier Elementary School in Kanata South, and Stephen Leacock Public School in Kanata North.
Representatives from Katimavik, which is built for 370 students but has 740 crammed into the building and 12 portables, say the status quo is no longer an option.
"They do a good job but they can't keep expecting to do it year after year," said Sheila Ball, who along with Terri MacDonald is a co-chairs of Katimavik's school council.
Ball said in the crunch to make classroom space available, students lost their computer lab, got less gym and library time and play in a playground that is overcrowded.
"It's really unfortunate that this is where it's gotten to," said Ball, who has two children at the school.
Decisions expected on Tuesday
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board recommendations include moving Katimavik's incoming junior kindergarten students to Castlefrank Elementary School in September, moving its Grade 4 students entering the middle French immersion program to either Bridlewood Community Elementary School or W. Erskine Johnston Public School, and moving Stephen Leacock's junior kindergarten program to Roland Michener Public School.
The board is expected to make final decisions on these recommendations on Feb. 22.
Kanata Ward trustee Cathy Curry has said that Katimavik is a victim of its own success, with successful early French immersion and middle French immersion programs that have drawn parents to try to get their kids at the school. In particular, the middle French immersion program has been more popular than anticipated, she told Ottawa Morning in January.
MacDonald said these proposals are short-term fixes, and said what the school board really needs are long-term answers to meet the needs of Kanata's growing population.
"In a school that's designed for 300-something, [almost] 800 kids are using the bathrooms and they've shown their wear-and-tear," said Terri MacDonald, who co-chairs Katimavik's school council.
"We're pleading that a long-term solution be introduced quickly because you can only do this for so long."
Kanata's problems are not unique in Ottawa. School board officials are meeting Thursday night to discuss recommendations to alleviate overcrowding in schools in Old Ottawa South and the Glebe.
With files from CBC's Evan Dyer