Spring Park parent starts petition to cap number of students in school

The growing student population at Spring Park School has pushed one parent to start a petition for a cap on student enrolment.

'Our concern is how many mobile units will we end up with?'

A members of Spring Park's Home and School group has started a petition to introduce an enrolment cap to deal with the growing student population. (Jessica Doria-Brown)

The growing student population at Spring Park School has pushed one parent to start a petition for a cap on student enrolment.

"There's been a lot of frustration over the capacity issues at Spring Park," said Angela Lawlor, co-chair of the Home and School executive committee. "It's the third time out of four years that we have been through this."

Spring Park was one of the main schools targeted for its large population, under a re-zoning plan last year. Since that plan was put into place, the number of children there has gone up.

In September 2011, enrolment was 376 students. That jumped to 520 by 2014 and 541 in the 2016-17 school year.

Now Spring Park's enrolment is at 550 students. According to the Public Schools Branch, the school has a functional capacity of 576 students.

'Capacity can change, over time'

Lawlor said she created the petition as a long-term solution to the school's overcrowding.

"It's extremely hard to effectively plan when you're working with a moving target, and that's what we're dealing with now," she said.

'To have a mobile unit taking up more green space on our grounds is not great ... so I have some concerns hearing that,' says Angela Lawlor. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The functional capacity numbers for Charlottetown area schools are currently under review by the Public Schools Branch.

"Functional capacity can change, over time, as student and programing needs in schools are considered and reviewed," wrote the branch's executive director Parker Grimmer in an email to CBC.

Mobile classroom a possibility

Lawlor said the Public Schools Branch is also exploring the possibility of installing a mobile unit on school grounds. 

"The immediate reaction is disgust to be quite honest," Lawlor said.

"Our concern is how many mobile units will we end up with if we open ourselves up to one mobile unit?"

She said parents are also concerned about a mobile unit taking up more space on the grounds of what is already a crowded school. 

Crowded playgrounds, split classes

Even children are noticing how overcrowded the school has become, according to Lawlor, whose children attend Spring Park.

"I hear how crowded the playgrounds are, and they talk about their split gym classes and just a number of students in the hallways."

The Public Schools Branch said it has not yet decided on whether it will install a mobile unit. 

Grimmer said the branch is having ongoing discussions with the school's staff and parents.

Lawlor said she along with other parents will also be meeting with the education minister next week to discuss capacity issues.