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Joint use facility replacing Argyle and Ecole Pius X schools officially opens in Regina

Regina is now home to another joint-use school with the official opening of the Argyle and Ecole St. Pius X joint-use facility in the city’s Lakeview neighbourhood.

The building will allow teachers to keep up with current education trends, including outdoor education and flexible learning spaces. However, the brand-new facility also demonstrates classroom capacity issues seen province-wide.

The new school will host approximately 800 Prekindergarten to Grade 8 students. St. Pius has 320 students currently enrolled, with the ability to accommodate 200 additional students as the population grows.

That is not the case for Argyle School. The school accepted about 100 new students from Ethel Milliken this fall as a result of a boundary change, placing current enrolment at 479.

“We are very full,” said Argyle principal Kyla Adams.

“Our community continues to grow and with that we’ll have to look at different accommodations.”

The new facility replaces Regina Public’s Argyle School and Regina Catholic’s Ecole St. Pius X. Both of the schools were built in the early 1950s.

Sarah Cummings Truszkowski, chairperson of the Regina Public School Board, said it is often the case that new schools open and are immediately filled with students.

“The (student)-teacher ratio is higher than we’d like it to be. Kids are not getting the staff with them as much as they could so it’s not ideal,” Cummings Truszkowski said.

“We are trying to do this very quickly (and) get these schools built. In the south-east end of the city we need the schools now and it’s going to take several years before that happens.”

Another joint-use school has been approved for Harbour Landing and the Regina school boards are seeking approval for another one in the east end of the city.

“We’re also working on improving efficiencies around how we approve school buildings and how we predict enrollment in order to ensure we are meeting those needs of communities more quickly as opposed to waiting until communities are in crisis as we’ve seen in spaces in Harbour Landing and St. Kateri,” said Regina Catholic School Board chair Shauna Weninger.

This issue is not new or isolated, according to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Urban and rural schools have faced capacity issues for the last decade. However, the problem has worsened in the last couple of years, STF president Samantha Becotte said.

“We have more students coming into our public schools. We have growth in our population here in Saskatchewan and the number of teachers isn’t keeping pace,” Becotte said.

“We always seem to be playing catch up in terms of the number of teachers in schools as well as the physical building spaces.”

Becotte called it a “complex issue” that comes down to funding for both new facilities and operations.

“We have questions on whether divisions have the capacity to fund and operate those schools. Will they have enough teachers? Will they have enough supports for students? Those have been our questions for a number of years,” Becotte said.

The provincial government invested over $44 million into the project. The new 11,050 square metre facility includes a 51 space child care centre, outdoor learning areas and a mini gym that can be utilized by both schools and be used for community events.

"The realization of this project is several decades in the making, beginning with a promise to the community in 2009," Regina Board of Education Chairperson Sarah Cummings Truszkowski said in a news release.

"Today's grand opening of this beautiful joint-use school and the continuing partnership with Regina Catholic Schools and the Government of Saskatchewan is not only the fulfillment of that promise to this community and its families, but also the realization of a commitment to create a well-designed learning space that will serve students and families for decades to come."

Students study on the stairs inside the new St. Pius school. (Allison Bamford/CTV News)

Premier Scott Moe toured the new facility on Monday. He admitted the province faces a number of challenges brought on by unprecedented population growth.

“It’s rightly identified as a challenge … that this government is continuing to work towards addressing,” Moe said.

The 17 schools that are planned or under construction this year are not the end of the road. There’s going to be conversations around additional infrastructure, not only replacing some of the aging infrastructure, but building for some of the growth that we are seeing.”

Moe said the government’s current way of determining per student operational funding “is not sufficient” and should be addressed.

According to the province, since 2008 around $2.4 billion in funding has been put toward infrastructure projects. This includes 60 new schools, 30 major renovations and an additional five projects through the minor capital renewal program. Top Stories

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