JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN
Trustees (from left) Peter Bartlette, Jim Murray and Mark Sefton debate the Brandon School Division’s four-point plan to deal with increasing enrolments on Monday night.
A group of English program students from École New Era School will be reassigned to Earl Oxford School as of next fall.
It is part of a four-point plan that was approved Monday night by the Brandon School Division to deal with increasing enrolment pressures, specifically overcrowding at New Era.
"We can’t sit still and do nothing," Trustee Doug Karnes said. "Sometimes choices are difficult, but you’ve got to make them. And you’ve got to make them to better the whole, not just a small portion."
After a lengthy debate around the board table Monday night, trustees voted 6-3 in favour of the full four-point plan. Trustees Glen Kruck, Pat Bowslaugh and Marty Snelling voted against the motion, while Mark Sefton, Jim Murray, Doug Karnes, Peter Bartlette, Linda Ross and Kevan Sumner voted in favour.
Kruck put forward an amendment to the motion to drop Point 1, which is the reassignment of students living north of the CP Rail tracks, to Earl Oxford, which was ultimately defeated.
"At this point in time we do not have to disrupt the lives and the education of the students who have the greatest needs in our school division," Kruck said in a plea to his fellow trustees.
Murray said Point 1 is the only aspect of the plan that will reduce pressure on New Era next September.
"I think that if we do nothing and ... defer this decision for a year in hopes that it gets better, I think we’re abdicating our responsibility on this board," Murray said, adding if they were to defer the decision it may lead to greater problems down the road.
The division has been focused on coming up with a plan to deal with enrolment challenges through a series of public consultations.
The other three points of the plan that were approved, include requesting additional portable classrooms from the Public Schools Finance Board and assigning them to schools with the greatest need.
The board will study the possibility of accommodating additional French immersion students at École Harrison in order to ease the enrolment pressure on New Era.
The board will also be having discussions with Assiniboine Community College and Manitoba Education regarding the idea to use the unused shop spaces at ACC’s Victoria Avenue East campus for BSD industrial arts, home economics and other programs.
Delvina Kejick, program co-ordinator at New Era, said she is "disappointed in the decision."
Many core area families rely on cultural programs at New Era and are very connected with the school, Kejick said.
"Programs are not easily replicated or easily moved," she said.
Enrolment continues to rise in the division and several schools are at or near capacity. Enrolment is at 8,232 — that’s an additional 309 students, compared to September 2011.
The division projects that increasing trend to only continue, as they have already exceeded the projected numbers for 2014-15.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 13, 2012