PEI

Meeting on overcrowded schools sparsely attended

Charlottetown Rural and its feeder schools are, for the most part, bursting at the seams, but only about 90 people showed up to have their say about how to tackle overcrowding.

15 people speak at consultation meeting on school enrolment and capacity

No overcrowding at this school gathering. One parent suggested the low turn out reflects confidence in the future of the Charlottetown Rural family of schools. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Charlottetown Rural and its feeder schools are, for the most part, bursting at the seams.

But Rural's cafeteria had plenty of room Tuesday night, when only about 90 people showed up to have their say about how to tackle overcrowding.

"This was our first evening. I don't think you'll see that this will necessarily be the norm," said Parker Grimmer, director of the public schools branch.

"I don't really know how to explain it, the amount of people. The information presented tonight was very valuable."

The meeting was the first of six in which members of the public are invited to speak, as the public schools branch continues its review of capacity and enrolment in select Island schools.

Projections are low, says mayor

Fifteen members of the public spoke at the meeting.

Several were from the town of Stratford, including town's Mayor David Dunphy.

Denise Ling is among the parents who want a new school built in Stratford. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Dunphy told school officials he believes their projections for population growth in Stratford schools are too low.

"We believe that the projected number of students for Glen Stewart and Stratford Elementary are low, and we await information from the public schools branch that we believe will demonstrate our opinion on that," said Dunphy.

Dunphy told school officials Stratford's growth has outstripped the rest of the province. While the student populations province-wide decline, numbers in the town continue to grow.

"We also believe that you should project school populations further than 2022 for long-term school planning," said Dunphy.

'We do need our own junior high'

Some parents said they want a new school built in Stratford. 

"We do need our own junior high," said parent Denise Ling.

"There's a lot of children, a lot of apartments and condos going up, lots of immigrants choosing to live here."

The low turn-out may be the result of the large number of meetings the public schools branch has scheduled, said school officials.

The consultation sessions now underway followed a series of presentations by officials to explain enrolment trends. More meetings will follow to explain what comes next..

Better attendance expected

Schools officials say they've had 170 online submissions from the public.

They predict meetings in days to come — in areas where enrolment is declining — will be better attended.

The meeting in Morell Wednesday night will start a half hour early, at 6:30 pm, to accommodate the long list of people who have signed up to speak.

The pre-arranged speakers' list in other schools is filling fast, too, say officials.

Meetings are also slated at Colonel Gray High School on Thursday, and at Kinkora, Westisle and Montague high schools next week.

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