WRDSB: Ac­com­mo­da­tion re­view sees board take stock of cur­rent ca­pac­i­ties at its schools and pro­jected changes due to growth

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS -

ap­proved, the school board looks at whether the ex­ist­ing schools in the area can ac­com­mo­date the in­crease in stu­dents.

“But in this case we do have a full Bres­lau Pub­lic School,” she said. “We did do an ad­di­tion there not too long ago, only just a few years ago. But at that time we knew that this other sub­di­vi­sion was com­ing on, so re­al­is­ti­cally Bres­lau is just a re­ally big growth area for us right now. So we did re­quire that an ad­di­tional fa­cil­ity be added to the mix to sup­port that pop­u­la­tion in­crease.”

Bres­lau PS is cur­rently op­er­at­ing at about 100 stu­dents over its ca­pac­ity of 565 stu­dents – or 17 per cent above ca­pac­ity (based on 2017 num­bers). The ad­di­tional stu­dents are ac­com­mo­dated in porta­bles, which are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered less prefer­able to brick-and-mor­tar class­rooms. A new school in Bres­lau may mean some stu­dents are moved out of the cur­rent pub­lic school, though a bound­ary study has yet to be done.

How the new school might look or be de­signed is also up in the air, and ul­ti­mately de­pends on whether the fund­ing is ap­proved. Some of the pub­lic in­put for cre­at­ing the LTAP stressed the need for more out­door spa­ces in new schools and even out­door class­rooms. The pub­lic also pre­ferred schools with com­pact de­signs that em­pha­sized height over sprawl­ing cam­puses.

But prob­a­bly a good in­di­ca­tion of how a new school in Bres­lau might look would be the new River­side PS in Elmira, which has a child­care cen­tre shar­ing the cam­pus.

“One of the other com­po­nents that we’re do­ing, and are ac­tu­ally man­dated to do through the Plan­ning Act, is to de­sign schools with com­mu­nity hubs in mind. So that would mean we would be look­ing for part­ners any­time that we build new schools,” said Agar.

“Our typ­i­cal part­ners are child care providers and the Min­istry now funds child­care spa­ces, and we’ve been suc­cess­ful in a few of our more re­cent projects for ele­men­tary schools to get fund­ing for child­care spa­ces with those schools.

“But other uses could be com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties ... li­braries, pools, that sort of thing, so that we’re max­i­miz­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, or pub­lic land, by pro­vid­ing every­thing in one cen­tral lo­ca­tion.”

Last year, the WRDSB re­quested $12.8 mil­lion from the prov­ince for the Bres­lau school, but was re­jected. As the prov­ince takes on the con­struc­tion costs for new schools in the re­gion, the time­lines for a new fa­cil­ity will ul­ti­mately de­pend on it. The WRDSB is still in talks with the Hopewell Creek devel­oper to find a lo­ca­tion for the school.

Be­yond Bres­lau, the pub­lic schools in Con­estogo and Welles­ley were listed as some­what over ca­pac­ity, though pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions ex­pect to see a de­cline in the num­ber of stu­dents at­tend­ing each one. St. Ja­cobs was com­fort­ably within its mar­gin; while Flo­radale and Lin­wood were sub­stan­tially un­der­uti­lized.

With a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 340 stu­dents, Flo­radale only has a stu­dent body of 241 – es­sen­tially mean­ing that a full 30 per cent of the school is be­ing un­der­used. For Lin­wood, with a ca­pac­ity of 528 but only a pop­u­la­tion of 403, more than a hun­dred stu­dents could be added to and still be un­der ca­pac­ity.

In Elmira, the school board is also re­quest­ing funds for an ad­di­tion to John Ma­hood PS. The cur­rent stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 432 is 13 per cent above the school’s 381 ca­pac­ity. Park Manor and River­side PS by con­trast are well within their class­room lim­its.

The town­ship’s high school, EDSS, is also us­ing porta­bles to ac­com­mo­date its large stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. The school’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion of 1,299 is 22 per cent above the school’s ac­tual ca­pac­ity of 1,062. The pop­u­la­tion is also pro­jected to grow in the LTAP by an­other 500 stu­dents in the next five years. The school board is look­ing into class­room ad­di­tions for the school if the pop­u­la­tion does in­deed con­tinue to in­crease.

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