PEI

New schools, additions, moving students options presented to address capacity issues in city schools

The P.E.I. Public Schools Branch presented the findings of its review of capacity at Charlottetown schools at a public meeting Wednesday evening.

'The public gave us these ideas'

The report is based on feedback given during public consultations that began earlier this year and presents possible solutions to capacity issues at six schools, which are expected to see steady growth over the next several years. (Government of P.E.I.)

The P.E.I. Public Schools Branch presented the findings of its review of capacity at Charlottetown schools at a public meeting Wednesday evening.

The report is based on feedback given during public consultations that began earlier this year and presents possible solutions to capacity issues at six schools, which are expected to see steady growth over the next several years. 

The schools reviewed in the study include:

  • Charlottetown Rural High School.
  • Colonel Gray High School.
  • Queen Charlotte Intermediate.
  • Spring Park Elementary.
  • West Kent Elementary.
  • Birchwood Intermediate.

PSB director Parker Grimmer said he was pleased with the amount of input given by parents and community members and the resounding sentiment was that change needed to happen now.

'If we are going moving forward with any decisions, that need to be made over the next little while, we need some time to also prepare for those for the successful transitions for students,' says Parker Grimmer, the director of the Public Schools Branch. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"The public gave us these ideas," Grimmer said. 

"We were listening, we had our ears wide open," he added. "We presented those options tonight and it was a good reflection of what we heard and what we think can work." 

8 options tabled

The schools in the study were divided into two groups, one for elementary schools and another for intermediate and high schools, which it defines as secondary.

The first two options proposed rezoning certain students in the English program at Spring Park Elementary to West Royalty Elementary. One option would involve students living in the Orchard Hill and Lewis Point Park areas. The second option would rezone students in the Queen Street circle area, including Brown's Court, Belvedere Avenue and North River Road.

A third option would extend the boundary for St. Jean Elementary to rezone 63 students currently at West Kent Elementary.

There were an additional five options presented for secondary schools, many of which involved constructing additions to current schools, including Queen Charlotte Intermediate, Charlottetown Rural Senior High and Colonel Gray Senior High. 

Further options tabled were the construction of a senior high school in Stratford, to accommodate students living in the Stratford and Donagh zones currently zoned for Charlottetown Rural High or building a Stratford secondary school to accommodate 1,400 intermediate and high school students currently zoned for Charlottetown Rural and Birchwood Intermediate. 

Stratford mayor, David Dunphy says building a new school in the town would solve a lot of problems Charlottetown schools are seeing and ensure it can keep up with the needs of its growing population. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy said a new school in the town would solve a lot of problems Charlottetown schools are seeing and ensure it can keep up with the needs of its growing population.

"We believe that this long-term solution is going to address the future population, the student needs of Stratford's population based on our anticipated growth over the next number of years."

Grimmer said the options will now go to public consultation for feedback before they are resubmitted to the board for a decision. 

'Not representative of our population'

Jana Parker-Smith is a Stratford resident and her children attend Stratford Elementary and Glen Stewart Primary schools. 

She said she wants a new school built in Stratford and is worried about the potential impact building additions to current schools will have on students.

"I went to Charlottetown Rural during a construction time so it was very disruptive to live through that," Parker-Smith said. "The thought of building onto that school and making it even bigger does not sound a safe and inclusive environment for anyone."

'It might be open and transparent but it's not representative of our population,' says Jana Parker-Smith, a Stratford resident whose children attend Stratford Elementary and Glen Stewart Primary schools. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Parker-Smith said she also has concerns about the limitations of the options given and said she wanted more opportunity to bring other proposals to the table.

"That's all folks have to choose from, in public consultations that really only involved about 300 people," she said. "It might be open and transparent but it's not representative of our population."

"My curiosity is, is the decision already made."

Next round of public consultations

Grimmer said the next round of public consultations are slated to begin right away.

He said the PSB will launch an online survey that parents and community members can access between Aug. 30 until Sept. 7.

Members of the public can also attend meetings on Sept. 5 at Charlottetown Rural High and Sept. 6 at Spring Park Elementary at 7 p.m., to discuss secondary and elementary options respectively. 

"People will have the opportunity to go in and basically go to stations to have the options presented to them…​and then to weigh in both with their ideas and also their comments," Grimmer said.

Members of the PSB board said it will present its decision to the public at a meeting on Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at West Kent Elementary School. 

The full report and presentation can be accessed on the PSB website.

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