PEI

School rezoning plan won't 'address the problem,' says Stratford mayor

Proposed changes to P.E.I. school zones for the 2017-18 year are unlikely to solve overcrowding for students from Stratford, says Mayor David Dunphy.

Three schools for Stratford students currently overcapacity

Stonepark Intermediate School is running out of space for students. (CBC/Steve Bruce)

Proposed changes to P.E.I. school zones for the 2017-18 year are unlikely to solve overcrowding for students from Stratford, says Mayor David Dunphy.

Instead, said Dunphy, students will more likely find themselves moving from one overcrowded school into another one.

"The big question the parents have is their students are basically in overcrowded schools from K to 9 at this point of time," he said.

"They're concerned about the solutions that are being put out there that aren't going to really address the problem."

Three schools with too many students

Students from Stratford currently attend three schools that are over capacity; Glen Stewart Primary is at 120 per cent, Stratford Elementary is at 109 per cent, and Stonepark Intermediate — located in Charlottetown — is at 112 per cent.

The second report in the schools review process recommends rezoning some students to Donagh in the early grades, and from the overcrowded Stonepark to the underutilized Birchwood Intermediate.

But Dunphy said not enough students are being moved to Donagh to alleviate overcapacity at Glen Stewart, and that the intermediate school change will just make Birchwood overcrowded instead of Stonepark.

"We need a better solution. Just moving an issue from one school to another is not solving the problem," he said.

Inner city schools

In reference to some comments reported in the media, describing Birchwood as an inner city school, Dunphy said he has not heard any concerns from parents about Birchwood itself.

"The inner city comment was unfortunate," he said.

"The parents are not concerned about it being Birchwood as a school, persay. Their concern is with overcrowding."

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy is hopeful a good solution will emerge before the full schools review process is completed. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The consultation process in the schools review is continuing, and Dunphy said the Town of Stratford is fully engaged.

"The process has been good so far," he said.

"We're very hopeful that there's going to be some good outcomes from this exercise."

In the long term, said Dunphy, he would like to see a junior high school built in Stratford.

The next round of public meetings on the school review process begins this week, with a meeting n the Colonel Gray family of schools on Wednesday.

With files from Island Morning

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