École Wascana Plains School forecast to double capacity by 2025: report
REGINA -- The Queen City is continuing to experience growing pains on the education front as a new report from Regina Public Schools projects École Wascana Plains School in the Greens area of the city to reach to nearly double its capacity by 2025.
The school’s capacity is listed as 650, with a current total of 861 students and an expectation to surpass 1,000 in 2022. As many as 1,310 are expected to be attending the school by 2025 if nothing is changed.
A proposal for a temporary solution includes a series of boundary changes for both English and French students attending the city’s newest elementary school, currently under review by the school division.
The permanent solution is a new school in the southeast part of the city, a request Regina Public Schools Director of Education Greg Enion described as its “top priority” on its submission list.
“While the decision for a new school is made by the provincial government, there has been ongoing advocacy for a new school by the Regina Board of Education Trustees and senior school division leadership,” Enion wrote.
Regina Public School Board Chair Adam Hicks described the situation as challenging, but added the growth the division is experiencing is a positive.
Hicks also said a request has been put in a request to the government to add an eighth portable classroom to Wascana Plains, increasing its capacity to 675 in 2021.
“Right now we’re sitting at over 850 students and projecting just even next year 950 students, so it’s an issue that can’t wait for a new build,” Hicks said.
Hicks noted one factor for the jump is the anticipated return of around 100 students who opted out of in-class learning this year due to COVID-19.
In a statement, the province said a request has been made by Regina Public for a portable classroom. The statement did not include any mention of a new school or the potential for one.
“The Ministry of Education prioritizes relocatable classroom requests through an application process on an annual basis and prioritizes the requests based on highest need,” the statement from the Ministry of Education said. “Relocatable Classroom Program funding will be announced on Budget Day in Spring 2021.”
Hicks said a new school to serve the Towns area of Regina has been at the top of the division’s capital requirement list for the last several years. He said there’s only so much reworking the division can do if it’s put off for another year.
“We need this school announced and it’s at a situation where we don’t know what we’re going to do if it’s not,” Hicks said. “If the budget is announced for a new Towns school, it will take about four years to fully have a new school in the Towns.”
“We are making this decision to last us five years, if it goes any longer than that we’re going to be in a tough situation.”
In the meantime, potential changes would impact the English boundaries for Jack Mackenzie School and the French immersion boundaries for Ecole Wilfrid Walker and Ecole W.S. Hawrylak School.
“The school division recognizes the challenges that boundary changes bring to families and school communities,” said Enion’s letter. “School division leadership extends our gratitude to the École Wascana Plains School administration, School Community Council, and the entire school community for their flexibility and patience during a time of growth and change in the southeast area of the City.”
The boundary changes will be presented to the Board of Education on March 23 and if approved would be effective for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
The changes will impact approximately 200 students.