Stratford school rezoning 'not even a short-term fix'

Stratford's mayor says one of the outcomes of the school review process has him hopeful overcrowding issues at the town's two schools will finally be addressed.

Town mayor counting on new infrastructure to solve overcrowding problems

Glen Stewart Primary and Stratford Elementary behind it are both currently over capacity. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Stratford's mayor says one of the outcomes of the school review process has him hopeful overcrowding issues at the town's two schools will finally be addressed. 

The Board of Directors of the Public Schools Branch recommended to government Monday night that "immediate action be taken to add additional school infrastructure in the Stratford area."

"I think it's a great idea," said Mayor David Dunphy. "We've said during this whole process we have to look at the long-term needs for students in Stratford. We've experienced tremendous growth in the last 20 years. Hopefully this will finally address the needs of the schools here in Stratford."

Rezoning not the answer, says home and school group

The board also approved rezoning changes aimed at addressing the overcrowding issues at Glen Stewart Primary, Stratford Elementary, and Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown, where Stratford students head in grade 7. 

The mayor estimates that as part of the shuffle, more than 450 Stratford students zoned for Stonepark will move to Birchwood Intermediate. 

Classrooms is what the schools need- David Dunphy, Stratford Mayor

Another roughly 60 students zoned for Glen Stewart and Stratford Elementary will move to Donagh.  

But the chair of Glen Stewart's Home and School Association says rezoning 60 students out of the two Stratford schools won't have much of an impact. 

"Capacity [at Glen Stewart] is 550, and we're at 670 students roughly" said Paula Pollard. "So this is not even a short-term fix for us."

Pollard says building new infrastructure is the only way to address the schools' overcrowding issues.   She says she's encouraged to see the Public Schools Branch pushing government to make that happen. 

"It's great, but it is very early stages," said Pollard.  "So I don't know what that infrastructure is going to look like. Is it going to be a new school? Is it going to be renovations?"

Province not clear on infrastructure plans 

Stratford's mayor says he's hoping to sit down with government and school officials to work on a plan. 

"I don't know what that [new infrastructure] will be," said Dunphy. "But obviously, classrooms is what the schools need.  Whether that's a new school, a new wing, that's to be determined."

Mayor David Dunphy said the property is in a key location in the heart of Stratford. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

At this point, the province hasn't committed to following the board's recommendation and funding any new infrastructure in Stratford. 

When asked about the recommendation Tuesday, P.E.I. Education Minister Doug Currie said he recognizes zoning changes alone won't solve the overcrowding issues at the town's schools. 

He said government can't tell people where to live, but does have a duty to provide infrastructure.

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