CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A Band-Aid approach is not the right option when it comes to addressing overcrowding in Charlottetown area schools, says some parents.
An open house meeting hosted by the Public Schools Branch (PSB) at Charlottetown Rural High Wednesday gave parents an opportunity to provide feedback on five proposed options.
The most popular option, and also the most expensive at $59.5 million, appeared to be building a new school in Stratford to accommodate 1,400 students from Grades 7 to 12.
Parent Denise MacLeod said while most parents including herself would like to see two schools in Stratford, as proposed in the town’s community campus vision, she still felt it was a good option.
“The need is so great, we’d love to have that because it would definitely be a good thing for the community as well as helping Charlottetown to have more space for their kids. It just makes sense,” said MacLeod, adding that the overcrowding could not be addressed by a ‘Band-Aid solution.’ “We need to do it right this time and go big so it’s a long-term solution.”
Due to the steadily increasing population in Charlottetown, most intermediate and high schools are projected to be overcapacity by 2022 while many already are.
The evening, which included PSB staffers and board of directors, had the options listed in five stations where parents could vote on their favourite.
Other options included building a high school in Stratford for Grades 10-12, or building additions to either Queen Charlotte Intermediate, Charlottetown Rural High or Colonel Gray High.
Five options to address overcrowding presented to Charlottetown area parents.
Option 1 - Build an addition on Queen Charlotte Intermediate to accommodate 200 students to meet enrolment projections and leave some room for growth or, if needed, rezoning from Birchwood Intermediate if needed. This would take two years to build and may include the loss of the ball field.
Cost - $9.5 million
Option 2 - Acquire property to build a Stratford school (Grades 7-12) to accommodate a population of 1,400 intermediate and senior high school students. Rezone all students living in the Stratford and Donagh zones who are currently zoned for Birchwood Intermediate, Stonepark Intermediate and Charlottetown Rural High to the new school. Redistribute the remaining students between the three existing intermediate and two senior high schools.
Cost - $59.5 million
Option 3 - Acquire property to build a senior high school in Stratford. Rezone all students living in the Stratford and Donagh zones who are currently zoned for Charlottetown Rural High to the new school. Redistribute remaining senior high school students between the two existing senior high schools.
Cost - $34 million
Option 4 – Build an addition onto Charlottetown Rural High to accommodate 300 or more additional students with the possibility of rezoning some students from Colonel Gray to Charlottetown Rural. The addition would include 12 standard classrooms, a gym, student washrooms, two teacher planning rooms and two small group rooms.
Cost - $13.1 million
Option 5 - Build an addition onto Colonel Gray to accommodate 300 additional students. The addition would include 12 standard classrooms, a gym, student washrooms, two teacher planning rooms and two small group rooms.
Cost - $12 million
Lindy McQuillan, a district advisory council rep for Stratford Elementary and a Home and School volunteer, said she felt building the Stratford 7-12 school was the only option that addressed overcrowding at both intermediate and high schools.
“I really feel (that option) gives us a long-term solution,” said McQuillan, who also described one of the options as a ‘band-aid’ solution.
Several expressed appreciation for the feedback process in the review.
PSB director Parker Grimmer said the process so far has seen positive feedback and a lot of engagement with more than 850 responses online.
“That’s a significant number and there’s also been communication with District Advisory Council that will be considered,” said Grimmer, noting that the PSB board met with the area’s councils prior to the meeting. “They had a good discussion and dialogue and I think it really went well.”
Parents can also provide a written submission or give input through on online survey until Friday at the PSB website.
The PSB will make its final decisions during a meeting on Sept. 13 at West Kent Elementary.