Saskatchewan

'These schools are bulging at the seams': Regina Public Schools to address over capacity concerns

The Regina Public School’s Accommodation Review, published this month, indicated newly opened schools in the Queen City’s suburbs will not be able to accommodate projected school numbers.

Two schools opened in 2017 are already over capacity, report says

A number of schools in Regina are expected to exceed capacity in the next decade but two schools opened in 2017 are already experiencing capacity issues. (CBC)

A number of schools in Regina are expected to be over capacity in the next 10 years — including schools opened as recently as 2017.

The Regina Public School's Accommodation Review, published this month, indicated newly opened schools in the Queen City's suburbs will not be able to accommodate projected school numbers.

Demand for French Immersion, intensive needs students and English as an Additional Language programs continue to increase according to the report, which said those are straining resources and facility capacity. 

The report also said facility availability, capacity and conditions will also continue to impact the school division's ability to accommodate existing and future students.

Ten-year projections cited in the report indicate six schools are likely to exceed their capacity. 

Judge Bryant School, Connaught French Immersion Program, Dr. L.M. Hanna School, Harbour Landing School, McLurg School and Wascana Plains School were all named in the report. 

Harbour Landing School and Wascana Plains School were both opened in 2017, and while both are projected to be operating well above capacity in 2027, both are already operating above capacity.

"Harbour Landing School, opened in fall 2017, was originally designed for 650 students. Enrolment in 2018 was 761 students with projected enrolments to exceed 900 students this fall," the report said. 

"Wascana Plains School, opened in fall 2017 with a capacity of 500 students. Although a new relocatable classroom has been added for 2019, Wascana Plains School is anticipated to exceed its capacity by 134 per cent this year," the report said. 

"By 2022, enrolments are projected to reach over 1,000 students (200 per cent of existing capacity)."

Division searching for temporary solutions

Regina Public School board vice chair Adam Hicks said the division is seeking temporary solutions for the overcrowding situation at Harbour Landing School. 

"We've added all the infrastructure we can to a number of schools, including Harbour Landing," he said. 

"There's no possible space to expand; the zoning and the requirements for playgrounds and things like that, we can't, we've just hit the maximum basically and these schools are bulging at the seams."

At a meeting set to be hosted on Monday, the division will explore temporary solutions that could involve moving programs out of Harbour Landing School to a nearby school that has more capacity. 

Hicks said a new school in Harbour Landing will be at the top of the division's capital project funding request.

A new school to serve the same area as the Wascana Plains School will also be added to the list, although Hicks said it's not as high of a priority as getting a new school built in Harbour Landing. 

Hicks said this year, the library at the Harbour Landing School has been moved, and a double classroom was built in its place. He said walls have been constructed in two hallway spaces to create makeshift classrooms.

"Don't get me wrong, if you go there it looks like it was, kind of, built with it," Hicks said. "It's taking some open concepts and some best practices that these schools were built for, and it's eliminating those spaces." 

Hicks said he hopes to see money in the next provincial budget to build a new Harbour Landing School, but said that process can take anywhere between two and four years to complete.

Proposed long-term solutions

The report highlighted the enrolment problem, but also identified a few possible solutions.

Wascana Plains School is not designed to be expandable to serve more than 650 students.

It was recommended that a new school be constructed to serve the Greens on Gardiner and Towns and Eastbrook subdivisions, where Wascana Plains School is located. 

The attendance boundaries for the Jack MacKenzie School should also be changed by the start of the 2021 school year to accommodate families in the Wascana Plains School area.

Meanwhile, at the Harbour Landing School, which serves the Harbour Landing subdivision, it was recommended that French Immersion students be relocated to the nearby Dr. A.E. Perry School, which currently has excess capacity.

"The excess capacity, however, would only be enough to accommodate the relocation of the French Immersion program on an interim basis; until such a time as a new school was constructed in the Harbour Landing area."

Should the move be permanent, Dr. A.E. Perry School would require expansion to add additional classroom, program and ancillary space according to the report.

It was proposed in the report to move the program by the start of the 2020 school year.

With files from Janani Whitfield

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