Brandon School Division will likely need to hire additional teaching staff this fall to address the growing student population, according to the superintendent.
Preliminary numbers show enrolment is currently at 8,232. That’s an additional 309 students, compared to September 2011.
“It’s a very significant increase,” Supt. Donna Michaels said. “Three hundred students is a whole school.”
Meadows School and École New Era School are the two facing the most pressure. Meadows currently has 448 students, while New Era has 550.
Michaels said she is also concerned about some large class sizes. At Linden Lanes, there is a Grade 8 class of 28 and a Grade 7/8 class of 27. A Grade 5/6 class at Betty Gibson also has 27 students.
“We’re analyzing these numbers and watching them carefully,” Michaels said. “And if within the next four or five days we still continue to see an increase, then we’re going to need to approach the board for some additional staff.”
The division wants to hear from the public on how to address the challenge of enrolment growth over the next few years.
A video message from board chair Mark Sefton has been put up on the division’s website (brandonsd.mb.ca) to get information out to constituents.
“The number of school-aged children has risen well beyond the divisional projections,” Sefton says in the video.
“In fact, the current enrolment of the Brandon School Division has already exceeded the projected numbers for 2014-15 … The immediate need for action and public consultation is based on the reality that École New Era School has reached its student capacity. The board of trustees wishes to make it very clear that doing nothing is not an option.”
The division would like to see a new school up and running by the fall of 2015, and has made the request to the province.
A provincial spokesperson said they will “continue to monitor enrolment and available classroom space in Brandon schools and meet with Brandon School Division officials to discuss their capital requests.”
In the meantime, the division has laid out a variety of short-term options to consider, and want to hear the public’s feedback on them.
Some of the options are: moving all French immersion students from New Era to Earl Oxford next year; busing English-speaking New Era students living north of the CP Rail tracks to Kirkcaldy Heights; incorporate Grades 7 and 8 French immersion at Neelin High School; and add portable classrooms to more schools.
For a detailed look at the many options, visit the division’s website.
The first public consultation will take place on Sept. 17 at New Era at 7 p.m., then on Sept. 19 at Riverheights at 7 p.m. and Sept. 26 at King George at 7 p.m.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2012