PEI

'We just don't have any room left': Charlottetown school principal

A Charlottetown junior high school is seeing a big bump in student enrolment this fall, and it's running out of places to put them.

'There's a lot of people and a lot of moving around and not a lot of space for everybody to be'

Stonepark Intermediate has used up all its potential classroom space. (CBC)

A Charlottetown junior high school is seeing a big bump in enrolment this fall, and it's running out of places to put students.

Stonepark Intermediate School is expecting enrolment to go up by 70 new students in September — that will be more than 900 students in total, said principal Norman Beck, and it will make Stonepark the most populated school in P.E.I.

"We're maxed," Beck said as he moved desks around a space that's being converted into a classroom. "Every section of the school is being used for instructional purposes, and we don't have anywhere else to go."

Demographics are a powerful thing, and it's tough to fight them.- Norman Beck, principal 

The school has already made significant changes to accommodate the increase in enrolment, Beck said, adding, "we're basically tapped out in terms of physical space."

"It's very, very hectic. There's a lot of people and a lot of moving around and not a lot of space for everybody to be," agreed Grade 9 student Shelby Lamphier.  

Two computer labs as well as two other spaces including student services have already been turned into classrooms — a move that students say will not help quality of education at the school.

"If you needed to print something off or work on a presentation, you could come in here and work on it easily. Now, you can't do that anymore," commented Grade 9 student Kirsten Payne, standing in the former computer lab amid stacks of chairs. 

While Beck believes the school will manage come September, he said the problem must be remedied soon.

"It's at the point where something has to be addressed. Demographics are a powerful thing, and it's tough to fight them, but that's the reality that we're in, we just don't have any room left to house any more students after next year," said Beck.

Beck expects class sizes will remain at about 25 students.

Education Minister Doug Currie said the province plans to analyze the current population "imbalance" in Island schools, and aims to redistribute students more evenly by September 2017. 

"We've got a challenge with the distribution of students in Prince Edward Island, and our mandate is to look at a model that is more balanced and more equitable," Currie said Monday, noting the government will roll out a schedule including public consultations — and likely school closures — in about five month's time. 

With files from Lindsay Carroll and Laura Meader

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