Education Minister Nancy Allan was in Brandon yesterday visiting a recently completed project at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School.
The welding shop inside Crocus Plains was updated with a $800,000 ventilation system to help improve energy efficency and indoor air quality for students and instructors.
"It’s a very exciting project," Allan said. "We know we want young people to go into the trades and we want them to know what it’s like to work in a safe environment."
The project is just one example of the several improvements being made to schools within the Brandon School Division.
"Over the last 10 years, we have spent over $23 million on these kinds of projects in Brandon," Allan said.
Other infrastructure projects currently ongoing within the school division include a nearly $1.6-million steam heat system replacement and a $721,000 upgrade to two science labs at Neelin High School. Waverly Park School is also getting a $79,000 boiler replacement.
"These projects are critical for long-term sustainability of these schools in Brandon," said Donna Michaels, superintendent and chief executive officer of the Brandon School Division.
Allan was also in town to meet with school board trustees to discuss Brandon’s rising enrolments.
"Brandon has been doing some consultation with their communities with regards to their increasing enrolment, this is a good thing for Brandon, it’s always nice to have these kinds of challenges," she said. "We have asked them to look at what kind of spaces are available here in Brandon in regards to what they may be able to do creatively, and I understand they’re looking at those kinds of issues, so we’ll just continue to work with them as their enrolment grows."
During their regular board meeting on Monday, trustees passed a motion to request 12 portable classrooms from the Public Schools Finance Board to accommodate increasing enrolment.
One portable classroom costs $200,000 and can host 20 to 25 students. Some of the schools that are being looked at as potential sites for a set of portable classrooms include Meadows School, Betty Gibson School, George Fitton School and Earl Oxford School.
"Every year around this time school divisions in the province of Manitoba go through a process where they prioritize what their needs are in regards to the coming year and they have made that request of the Public Schools Finance Board," Allan said.
"The Public Schools Finance Board will have a look at that request, they will come out here and visit the school division and look at their space requests and they will make a determination of what their needs are."
But Allan said that peaked enrolment is an issue that the province has been able to deal with successfully in the past.
"We have worked with other school divisions across the province that have seen their enrolments grow because of our successful immigration programs so we’ll just continue to work with them in terms of what their enrolment actually becomes."
While in town, Allan also attended the official opening of the new Marquis Project office at the Westman Entrepreneurial Centre. The project assists teachers with the implementation of social studies curriculum and outcomes related to social justice, fair trade and global citizenship.