CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Come September, some Charlottetown students will get a change of scenery.
The Public Schools Branch board of directors passed a motion Wednesday night at a public meeting at St. Jean Elementary School to deal with the overcapacity of Spring Park Elementary School.
The five-year plan will move Spring Park Elementary students to West Royalty Elementary beginning with kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 English students from the Orchard Hill and Lewis Point areas in September of 2019.
Board member Dale Sabean said the board is still looking at the issue of overcapacity at Spring Park. Back in April there were about eight options to choose from and moving students to West Royalty one was decided as the best option.
“We looked at the various elementary schools in the area that had space including St. Jean, Prince Street, West Royalty and Sherwood,” Sabean said. “At the end of the day we believe there is space available at West Royalty.”
Spring Park students studying French will not be moved because West Royalty doesn’t have an immersion program.
“That will bring our numbers down at Spring Park to about 500 and we still have capacity at West Royalty. We know West Royalty has also been approved to have additional space in the next few years,” Sabean said.
West Royalty will have 10 additional classrooms built over the next few years.
“Long term it will not create any significant issues for either school,” he said.
Fifty to 60 students will be moved from Spring Park in September, Sabean said, and if a younger sibling moves from one school to the other, the older sibling may request to go with them, unless they are part of the French program.
The board looked at adding French immersion to West Royalty, but Sabean said neither school would have sufficient numbers to support the program.
As for students in the EAL (English as an additional language) program, the supports will follow them to their new school, Sabean said.
Now that the board has put forward the recommendation, it is the job of the Public Schools Branch director to work with school officials, students and community members to make the transition happen.
Director Parker Grimmer said student movement will be staggered.
“It’s about a five-year plan, but it could be quicker based on the way the community takes the information,” Grimmer said. “We had some experience a couple years ago transferring students from an intermediate to another intermediate, as well from elementaries to other elementaries. So, we know our procedures. We are going to start to assemble a transition team.”
Overcapacity at Island schools might be mitigated further in the next few years with the approval of a new secondary school in Stratford.
The Public Schools Branch has set aside $500,000 to do a comprehensive review of all Island schools to see what the specific needs are, Grimmer said.