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OPINION: Grades 7-12 school best option

A crowd of about 150 attended the public meeting where Stratford’s “community campus vision” was unveiled Wednesday night.
A crowd of about 150 attended the public meeting where Stratford’s “community campus vision” was unveiled. - Mitch MacDonald

Option 1 works best for Stratford as it provides adequate capacity and adequate room for growth

BY SUSAN BRADLEY

GUEST OPINION

I am writing as a concerned parent as a result of the Charlottetown Family of Schools Study Report that was recently presented to the Public Schools Branch (PSB) board of directors at a public meeting on August 29, 2018.

The study report included options for improving capacity issues at the elementary and secondary (intermediate/high school) levels and the board has invited the public to provide their input on the matter.

RELATED: Parents still prefer option to build a new school in Stratford

As a result of the study, our three options are:

Build a Grade 7-12 school.

Expand Queen Charlotte to address the junior high issues and build an addition to each Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray.

Expand Queen Charlotte and build a third high school (grades 10-12).

The expansion as proposed under Option 2 above will not work as a long-term solution because, with the addition to the two high schools, capacity will increase from 1,900 to 2,500 but the forecasted population for the two schools will hit 2,500 and will even surpass 2,500 based on the PSB’s own data.

Option 3 above does give capacity for the forecasted population for all junior high and high school students but never shows excess capacity greater than 10 per cent in the coming years. This margin of error of less than 10 per cent is not adequate, especially based on recent years when the forecasted numbers have been significantly under the actual numbers of students enrolled.

Forecasting is not an exact science and if we look at the Barager forecasts, they have increased by upwards of 21 per cent for high school from September 2016 to April 2018. PSB forecasts do not predict such high future growth. Truthfully, it is very difficult to forecast the immigration population for Stratford and Charlottetown schools and if we acted on the side of caution we would use higher figures based on recent historical data.

If we are faced with overcapacity in the near future based on forecasts that are too low and decisions made with not enough margin of error, it will end up costing taxpayers more in the end as we will have the costs of the band aid solution now plus the future costs to address it down the road. Let’s fix this now.

Option 1 is the only option that will work for the best education of our children in both the long and the short term as it provides adequate capacity and adequate room for growth. Stratford is a wonderful, vibrant community and many people are choosing to live here. It is evidenced by the many new subdivisions currently in progress and on the horizon.

The drawback to living in Stratford is the state of our schools. My husband and I have four children, ages 10 to 3, so we know first-hand. We have seen the schools become overcrowded and the difference it makes to our children’s education.

Since our son started in 2012, the dental program can no longer be conducted in the school due to lack of space. Consider the impact this has on low income families. Classrooms that used to be designated for computer labs and resource are taken as homerooms and breakfast programs have had to be downgraded. I could elaborate further as those are just a few of the negative outcomes of overcapacity.

We all know that education is the key to a happy successful life and we all want the best for our children. I am asking the PSB’s board of directors to make a decision, based on facts and numbers and choose the only option that addresses our short and long-term capacity issues. Based on facts and numbers, this is Option 1.

Susan Bradley is a concerned Stratford parent of four young children.

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