Look­ing for so­lu­tions to school over­crowd­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

Strat­ford Mayor David Dun­phy says the town is about to take a se­ri­ous look at over­crowd­ing in its schools.

Town coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion at its reg­u­lar pub­lic monthly meet­ing on Wed­nes­day pub­licly ac­knowl­edg­ing the res­o­lu­tion the Pub­lic Schools Branch it­self passed in April.

That’s when the school board rec­om­mended the prov­ince take ac­tion to add new school in­fra­struc­ture to the area.

“The next step for us is we want to bring to­gether a work­ing group of par­ents and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the home and school (as­so­ci­a­tion) about the is­sue with the goal of pre­sent­ing in the fall,’’ Dun­phy said Thurs­day.

“We want to en­gage with our par­ents and bring a small work­ing group to­gether to deal with this is­sue and come up with rec­om­men­da­tions and do some more anal­y­sis of data.’’

Dun­phy is talk­ing about look­ing five to 10 years down the road, not just plan­ning for the im­me­di­ate needs in terms of over­crowd­ing. The town is grow­ing, and that growth is likely to con­tinue.

One could as­sume that Strat­ford wants a new school, but Dun­phy doesn’t want to as­sume any­thing.

“When we meet, I think we’ll come to an agree­ment on what it should be and I don’t want to prej­u­dice that.’’

Re­zon­ing will move some Strat­ford ju­nior high stu­dents from Stonepark to Birch­wood.

Dun­phy said if that doesn’t solve the is­sue in the ju­nior high por­tion of the prob­lem in the short or long term then thought needs to turn to build­ing a ju­nior high in Strat­ford.

“We will make spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions like that, for ex­am­ple, to the Pub­lic Schools Branch after we’ve had a chance to re­view the sit­u­a­tion and look at the long-term pop­u­la­tion growth in Strat­ford and area.’’

There is al­ready a prob­lem with the two schools in the town, with Glen Ste­wart Pri­mary over ca­pac­ity while Strat­ford El­e­men­tary School will be at ca­pac­ity in Septem­ber.

Mean­while, Strat­ford’s high school-aged chil­dren at­tend Char­lot­te­town Ru­ral, which is at ca­pac­ity.

“We feel that our chil­dren are not get­ting the same qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion as other ar­eas be­cause of over­crowd­ing is­sues, whether we’re talk­ing about bath­room ac­cess (or) gym ac­cess. It’s those kinds of things . . . teach­ers be­ing put in a po­si­tion where they don’t have the fa­cil­i­ties, the lo­ca­tions, the class­rooms, the spe­cial learn­ing ar­eas that they re­quire. They’re do­ing a great job, but they need more re­sources, more fa­cil­i­ties.’’

One idea Dun­phy floated, that could be pre­sented to the school board, was chang­ing the pri­mary school from K-3 to K-2, chang­ing el­e­men­tary from Grades 4-6 to 3-5 and build­ing a ju­nior school to han­dle Grades 6-9.

GUARDIAN FILE PHOTO

Strat­ford Mayor David Dun­phy says a work­ing group that in­cludes par­ents and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the home and school as­so­ci­a­tion will be cre­ated with the goal of mak­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion this fall to the Pub­lic Schools Branch that ad­dresses the town’s over­crowd­ing is­sues in the schools.

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