Revising how the province calculates classroom capacity is among the recommendations Brandon School Division hopes to bring forward at the Manitoba School Boards Association’s annual general meeting.
Trustees approved three resolution recommendations during Monday’s regular school board meeting. Timelines regarding notifying trustees of student suspensions and advocating that provincial and federal governments take steps to eliminate child poverty will also be submitted.
Resolutions will be presented at a regional meeting, where it will be decided whether they will be brought forward during the Manitoba School Boards Association’s AGM in Winnipeg in March.
Trustees suggest that in addition to usual student work spaces, more space is often needed to make room for technology in the classroom. There are also an increasing number of students with disabilities who require additional space. Students working with an educational assistant in the classroom could also impact space.
“We’re seeing a variance between how it’s being calculated and the actual space that we need,” school board chair Mark Sefton said. “We’re asking them to change the divisor a little bit so that the actual capacity is a better reflection of what we’re experiencing.”
Sefton said he hopes the province will take this recommendation into consideration before construction begins at Meadows, Waverly and George Fitton schools.
Meadows and Waverly schools are receiving two additional classrooms and gym renovations at George Fitton will make room for two classrooms to help with the implementation of the first phase of the province’s kindergarten to Grade 3 class size initiative.
Design development documents for Waverly Park’s two classroom additions and George Fitton’s two-classroom renovation project were also approved by trustees yesterday and will now be forwarded to the Public Schools Finance Board for approval.
The division is also continuing to make baby steps when it comes to occupying unused space at Assiniboine Community College’s Victoria Avenue East Campus.
In a letter to Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum, school board trustees expressed their concern over how enrolment growth could impact middle-years programming. Unused shop spaces at ACC would make room for industrial arts, home economics and band program spaces for a number of schools. Moving these classes to ACC would also free up classroom space at École Harrison, Earl Oxford, Waverly Park and Riverheights schools.
Allum responded to the division’s letter last month, saying the Public Schools Finance Board will continue to work with them “to evaluate this proposal further and in more depth, with a focus on both the programming and enrolment perspective.”
No word yet on the timeline for this project, but Sefton said Allum’s response shows it’s on the province’s priority list.
“I certainly see his comments as an indication that they are looking at it very seriously and they see how it would certainly be a benefit for students in Brandon,” Sefton said.
Trustees are also gearing up for 2014-15 school year budget talks.
On Jan. 20, trustees will release their preliminary budget during a special board meeting at 7 p.m. Then, on Feb. 12, trustees will seek input from community members during a public budget consultation forum at 7 p.m. at École Harrison leading up to their all-day budget deliberations on Feb. 18. Trustees will then present the proposed budget on March 3 at 7 p.m. during a special board meeting.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 10, 2013