One way the Brandon School Division may deal with overcrowded schools is by using empty space at Assiniboine Community College’s Victoria Avenue East campus.
It’s an idea that came up several times at last month’s public consultation sessions on how to deal with increasing enrolment challenges.
BSD board chair Mark Sefton said they are exploring the idea, but it is still in the preliminary stages.
“I think it has the potential to be a win-win-win,” Sefton said. “Certainly it could help us with the enrolment pressures we’re feeling. It could also be beneficial to ACC to have those spaces used as opposed to vacant.”
Sefton went on to say the move could also help the provincial government, by taking some of the short-term pressure off, as the division would be using space that’s already available.
The division will be meeting with representatives from ACC within the next few weeks, Sefton said.
ACC president Mark Frison said it would be a great way to use resources in a very strategic fashion.
“Especially if we could accelerate our move to the North Hill,” he said. “Then it could free up resources that the Brandon School Division could use … From my perspective, this might be added incentive for the province to look at that investment. Maybe it can help to essentially kill two birds with one stone.”
Enrolment continues to rise in the division and several schools are at or near capacity. Enrolment this fall was at 8,232 — that’s an additional 309 students compared to September 2011. The division projects that increasing trend to only continue, as it has already exceeded the projected numbers for 2014-15. Ecole New Era School has reached its student capacity.
The division is considering the idea of moving home economics, industrial arts and perhaps the band programs to empty space at ACC down the road.
“Those are the programs that are generally not housed in the student’s home school,” Sefton said. “So those spaces are ideally suited to that … and then it would allow us to reclaim some classroom spaces in the schools that currently have home ec and industrial arts.”
The shop space at Earl Oxford, for example, could possibly be transformed into three or four classrooms.
Sefton said it’s important to work through this idea carefully.
“We want to make sure that we know what’s available and how we could go about making best use of that so it’s a benefit and not an impediment to ACC and a benefit and not an impediment to Brandon School Division,” Sefton said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 24, 2012